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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Wuhan Virus Numbers: Some Much Needed Context

Before I again get into Wuhan virus numbers, let me say that I understand well the sudden and tragic loss that many Americans are experiencing during these difficult times. Almost exactly five years ago, we tragically lost my father-in-law in a hit-and-run homicide. He was riding his bicycle when he was hit by an intoxicated driver. He died instantly. There were no last goodbyes, no farewell hugs. One minute he was here, and the next he was gone.

David left behind a wife, four children, their spouses, and 11 grandchildren. As President Trump himself highlighted yesterday, it was the hardest thing we’ve ever dealt with, and this Wuhan virus has brought such sorrow to many American homes. However, our response to the Wuhan virus has brought a different kind of suffering to countless other Americans. As we continue this fight, we must recognize that we can protect those vulnerable to this dangerous virus while reopening our nation for business.

As the Wuhan virus continues to dominate the news, and most of America remains in some form of foolish “shutdown,” it’s time many Americans got some much needed information on the context of the many Wuhan virus numbers with which we’ve been inundated. I suspect your mainstream media is much the same as is mine in Northeast Georgia. I can’t look at a news website without being forced to read the (supposed) latest Wuhan virus death numbers and the new and the total number infected with the Wuhan virus.

First, let’s deal with the number of infections, or as the largest newspaper in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) has been putting it, “confirmed cases.” As the previous link reveals, since very early in March the AJC has been keeping a daily tally of Wuhan virus deaths and cases in Georgia. Almost certainly, every U.S. state has a newspaper doing the same. However, when it comes to Wuhan virus infections, readers of the AJC are only getting total number of cases in Georgia, while other valuable and informative data is missing.

In other words, from one of the major news organizations in the state, Georgia citizens are not getting much needed “context” to the number of Wuhan virus cases. For example, as AJC readers scan the daily numbers, it is almost never stated that Georgia’s number of Wuhan virus infections is increasing because testing is on the rise. For weeks now, we’ve been hearing that we need more testing—and foolishly, many politicians and like-minded pundits are declaring that the un-sheltering and reopening of America largely hinges on the frequency and availability of Wuhan virus testing—thus it should come as little surprise that we now see a rise in those positive for the Wuhan virus across the U.S.

Though, I agree with John Hinderaker when it comes to testing:
The more tests we do, the more people we will find who have, or have had, the virus. So what? Epidemiologists say that the virus will continue to spread until a critical mass of us have had it and are immune, a number that probably lies between 40% and 70%. The virus will then more or less die out. I fail to understand how doing millions of tests on apparently well people is going to guide policy in any significant way.
What’s more, readers of the AJC do not see the number of Georgians who have completely recovered from the Wuhan virus. This is quite misleading, as the vast majority who contract the Wuhan virus recover within a two-week period, if they even have symptoms in the first place. As of this writing, the latest AJC headline on the Wuhan virus numbers blared that the “number of confirmed cases in Georgia increased by another 999,” and went on to note that “at least 28,133 residents have tested positive for the disease.”

As one looks day by day, because those who have recovered are never removed from the count, the number of Wuhan virus cases in Georgia continues to rise. Of course, this will happen as long as the AJC continues to count cases in such a way. Additionally, many who test positive for the Wuhan virus have very mild symptoms, if they have symptoms at all. That leads us to another important missing number when it comes to Wuhan virus cases: the asymptomatic.

Along with cruise ships, U.S. prisons have provided some valuable Wuhan virus data. A contagious virus will spread through a prison faster than fake news travels the mainstream media. One recent study on federal prisoners showed that more than 70% tested positive for the Wuhan virus. However, another recent study on prisoners revealed that, of those infected with the Wuhan virus, 96% were asymptomatic.

Additionally, as Jonathan Geach, M.D., Ankur J. Patel, M.D., Lacy Windham, M.D., OB/GYN, Ashkan Attaran, M.D., and Jason Friday, M.D. recently noted in The American Spectator,
Every study that has tested for COVID-19 in healthy individuals has found the disease’s prevalence to be surprisingly high, especially that of asymptomatic cases. These studies looked for the actual virus from a mouth or nasal swab using a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). One of these was a study done at Columbia University, which tested every woman presenting for labor for COVID-19 for almost a month. Researchers found a 15 percent positive rate, and 88 percent were completely asymptomatic. Another study at a Boston homeless shelter tested nearly 400 guests, 146 of which tested positive. All were asymptomatic. Yet another study on the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested 94 percent of the crew for the virus, with 678 of 4,069 sailors testing positive. Sixty percent of these 678 have been asymptomatic.
So, of the over 28,000 Georgians who’ve tested positive for the Wuhan virus, how many of them have recovered or have mild or no symptoms? This is important—and potentially comforting and calming—information. Yet, we’re almost never told such things by the mainstream media. Because they are devoted to the removal of President Trump from office at almost any cost, the mainstream media has used print, television, and the internet to further the shutdown narrative.

Also, along with the number infected, we daily get the number of those killed by the Wuhan virus. Or do we? We do know that there is a definite financial incentive for hospitals to attribute as many deaths as possible to the Wuhan virus. We also know from the doctors themselves that there is pressure to count every death possible as a Wuhan virus death. And we know from state Public Health Directors that there is reason to suspect that the total number of reported deaths from the Wuhan virus is high.

As Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of Public Health Director, recently put it,
I just want to be clear in terms of the definition of people dying of COVID. So, the case definition is very simplistic. It means that at the time of death it was a COVID-positive diagnosis. So that means if you were in hospice and had already been given, you know, a few weeks to live and then you were also found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means that if, technically, even if you died of a clear alternate cause but you had COVID at the same time it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone that’s listed as a COVID death doesn’t mean that that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death. I hope that’s helpful.
Yeah, that is indeed “helpful,” but it’s something else the media virtually ignores as they report Wuhan virus numbers. Furthermore, we’re almost never told who’s dying. It’s surprisingly difficult (try it) to even get an internet search to reveal the average age of a U.S. Wuhan virus death. As Selwyn Duke noted recently, the average age of an Italian who’s died from the Wuhan virus is 79.5, with more than 99% of those having comorbidities.

In Georgia, the average age of a Wuhan virus death is 73.4, with only 4.5% having no known comorbidities (listed as a “chronic condition” on the Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 Daily Status Report). Of the Georgians who’ve died from the Wuhan virus with no (yet) known “chronic condition,” 15 of them were under the age of 65. Again, Georgia’s media virtually ignores such things when reporting their Wuhan virus numbers.

In addition, the total number of Wuhan virus deaths for the U.S. seems awry. Currently, the number being reported across the U.S. shows that we are coming up on 70,000 total Wuhan virus deaths. Though they do indicate that their numbers lag, the CDC site shows the total number of Wuhan virus deaths far smaller (almost half) than what is reported in the media. In addition, the CDC distinguishes between “COVID-19 Deaths” and “Deaths with Pneumonia and COVID-19.” Almost certainly the total number of Wuhan virus deaths the media reports includes the latter category (currently over 16,000), without ever including a similar distinction.

I’ll let the doctors from The American Spectator piece mentioned above summarize for me,
[I]t is clear that COVID-19 is more prevalent and less deadly than previous testing has shown. In addition, it has become clear that the disease progression is generally mild in those under 65 with limited co-morbidities and even less of a threat to children. Knowing how low the risk is for the vast majority of Americans, which is rapidly approaching the mortality rate of the flu, we can safely reopen most of the country’s economy while continuing to protect those who are most at risk from COVID-19. Once shelter-in-place orders have been lifted, those who remain fearful are free to continue to shelter in place for as long as they so choose. There is more than enough information available at this time to reopen America.
Copyright 2020, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America

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