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The Coronavirus By The Numbers: What Are They Telling Us? (Opinion)

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Over many days, I have thought long and hard about the subject matter of this commentary. However, I was reluctant to raise the issue until now. We have all heard about the coronavirus outbreaks and hotspots in New York City, California, and the State of Washington. The number of people confirmed to have the virus, along with the number of people who have passed away from it, changes all the time. As a reference point, this article was written on the afternoon of March 23 at 4:30 PM, and by the time you read this commentary, the numbers will have increased. At that time, there were 41,708 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 573 people had lost their lives.

I have heard that over 50% of all the deaths that occurred so far have taken place within 6 American counties. Just as a reference point, there are 3,141 counties in the United States. As of the Monday reporting, 37 states, the District of Columbia, and 4 of the territories had only 77 people die since the beginning of the outbreak, including 16 states and 2 territories that experienced no coronavirus deaths at all. Six states: New York, New Jersey, California, Washington State, Georgia, and Louisiana, alone accounted for almost 70% of the U.S. deaths from this disease.

At his news conference today, President Trump said words to the effect, “We have to make sure that the cure is not more damaging than the virus.” The president was signaling how concerned he is about getting people back to work, and that by extending the delays with more confinement enclosures, we are creating more significant, long-term damage to the economy than the COVID-19 virus itself.

For the first time, the president began to look at the actual numbers as to how concentrated the virus is, whereby in a number of states, as I pointed out above, there were no deaths at all. We are now in the middle of a 15-day attack on the virus. I understand that other administration officials are suggesting that this could be a tough week in which we could see increases in people being diagnosed, and a resultant increase in the number of deaths.

The CDC reports that in the period from October 1 to December 31, 2019, 8,000 people in the United States have already died from the seasonal flu, and upwards of 50,000 more people will die by the end of this flu season. The CDC also reports that during the same period, 7.3 million people have been infected with the flu, with as many as 83,000 people being hospitalized during the same time frame. It seems the economy functions quite well with all these people suffering from the flu virus. As we look at the infection rate and the deaths from COVID-19, people are beginning to wonder that these infection and death rates do not justify the processes that we have undertaken, which have closed down the economy.

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The president indicated that he will take into consideration where we stand at the end of the 15 days and what the next steps should be to protect our people and our economy.

According to Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 tracking map, the United States has a mortality rate of 1.3%. As the number of confirmed cases rises, outpacing the deaths, the mortality rate will most likely drop under 1%. 

Based on today’s numbers, if you, as a normally healthy person, get the coronavirus, you have a 98.7 % chance of recovery. However, we all know that the elderly and people with immune disorders are more at risk with this virus. The big unknown at the moment is if we selectively begin to open up the economy, what will be the risk to this group?

I believe it’s possible to restart the economy in the South and Midwest and concentrate our offense against the virus, instead, in the states that have the highest concentration of COVIV-19 cases. So, if President Trump or one of his staffers gets a chance to see this article, I want to share with him as well as you some of my suggestions. 

Until we see a significant reduction in the number of infections on a global basis, the borders of the United States should be closed to travelers from Asia and Europe. To the best of our ability, this will allow us to control the number of virus-carrying people who could be coming into the United States. Clearly, we don’t want to take the chance of opening our borders until it’s safe to do so. Americans who have self-quarantined themselves after 2 to 3 weeks are going to want to get out of their homes. We should open parks and beaches with clear instructions of maintaining a safe distance, and that over time as the virus dies out, we can allow people to get closer.

We can open up shopping centers, restaurants, bars, and theaters, but also under the safe distance requirements. Domestic air travel should be allowed, but international travel should be prohibited until after we are sure that the virus has been eradicated. 

The last issue is, how do we protect our greatest treasure, senior Americans? AARP reports that 80% of Americans over the age of 65 do not have full-time jobs. They may volunteer or they may have part-time jobs for social interaction and a little spending money. Senior Americans, for some unspecified time, will have to spend it in their homes or apartments. And the rest of us have to make sure our seniors will be cared for and their needs are met. We must keep them safe, and in so doing, we will bring the mortality rate down to less than 1% and bring the GDP back on track towards 4% GDP growth.

When the coast is clear, then we can offer the opportunity to celebrate all of those seniors that we have protected, and we will have preserved the heritage and history of our country. There was a famous World War II poster that inspired a generation to become the greatest generation: it said, “We Can Do IT!”

Our generation of Americans will be able to say, “We Did It.”

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Dan Perkins is a nationally syndicated radio and TV talk show host. He is heard in over 1400 markets in the United States and is broadcast in 193 nations around the world. He is a current events commentator who contributes to over 20 blogs across America. His latest radio program is Americas Cannabis Conversation broadcast over the AM/FM radio network and the Global Entertainment Network and all the major Pod cast networks. More information about Dan Perkins can be found on his website

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