COVID-19 update #2: Everything is a pile of good things and bad things

Well, I did feel a need to stay with a Dr. Who theme here.

Now COVID-19 is more than an anomaly in the United States, and at least nine people have died. So what does it mean? Who’s at most risk? How much risk is that?

Getting some perspective on the numbers:

According to the CDC, we can expect 40-70% of the people to get infected. Each year about 10% of us get the flu and on average adults catch 2-3 colds. (Some of the COVID-19 illnesses are as mild as cold, and may go unreported, which could contribute to the virus spreading. Of the people infected, the estimate is that 30-70% do not have symptoms)

This Vietnamese video, with subtitles, shows us best way to avoid infection.

For simplicity, I took the easy figure of 50% infected to do get some perspective.

Let’s just say that my little town gets infected. We have 18,000 people here. If 50% get infected, that’s 9,000 people that will be infected anywhere from a slight cold to complications resulting in death.

The mortality rate is estimated at around 2%, which is between 10 and 20 times the rate for flu, depending on the strain of flu. Yike! 180 people might die in my little town. (2% of 9,000 people infected.)

Note: This is a high estimate. I’m not sure how the CDC’s estimate of those with no symptoms can figure into the death calculation. If a person has no symptoms, how can they be counted? So, potentially, if 50% don’t have symptoms, my calculation numbers will be cut, roughly, in half.

According to the CDC numbers, unlike the flu, the younger you are, the higher your chance of surviving a COVID-19 infection.

from the CDC

The good news is that young people seem to have about the same rate of death as the flu.

My little town has close to 2,000 senior citizens, people over 65 years old. COVID-19 could bring decrease that number between 18 and 125 seniors. The range results in two different calculations:

(2000 seniors) X (50% infection rate) – (50% without symptoms) X (25% death) = 125 deaths; or

(180 deaths) X (10% seniors) = 18 deaths.

Of course, infection doesn’t work like a simple probability calculation. One person infects two people who infect two more. I won’t get COVID-19 from people who are sick in Washington unless I somehow come in contact with them. And no matter what my age, I’m more likely to contract the disease if I’m in close proximity to someone with the disease. For example, on a cruise ship, in a nursing home, or at home with sick children.

The only way to completely avoid getting sick is to stay away from people and the things they touch. Since some people won’t have symptoms, you won’t be safe just staying away from sick people.

Here are some tips to keep from getting a whole host of diseases, including COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands with good old soap and water;
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth;
  • Cover coughs and sneezes;
  • Keep your personal items clean;
  • Keep a 10 foot perimeter from sick people;
  • Stay home if you are sick.

I love the TicTok challenge even more than the original Vietnam video. It a good reminder of the steps to take to prevent diseases from spreading.

Thanks John Oliver, for bringing this to my attention.