Sense Among the Panic

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Talked with OwnerGuy yesterday at the studio. I could see that closing the studio was not an easy decision. In the end, it sounded like he was concerned about those of us hard core types who would continue to come to the studio. Again, the risk is minimal but it is not zero so closing for a couple of weeks to see how things look after more social distancing isn’t a bad idea.

Ended up doing a double lesson and we just went through a bunch of dances – Waltz, Argentine Tango, Tango, Cha-Cha and Bolero. Even had OwnerGuy’s watchful eyes on our Bolero at the end. He wants more rotation in the telemark. Mostly just touching on the same topics that continue to need refinement. More sway in the Waltz. Better connection in the Bolero. Cleaning up the timing in a few parts of the Tango and also looking for parts that we can make “sharp”. I’m actually kind of enjoying this type of fine tuning but we won’t have another lesson until early April.

I cam across a couple of interesting pieces of information today. Like I said, I’m all about the data. There is an organization in the UK (Centre for Evidence Based Medicine) that is starting to do analysis of the real numbers. Most of what we’ve seen up until now are projections based on assumed rates of spread and infection.

Anyway, they have attempted to model the fatality rate based on observed data. They do make some assumptions in their paper about testing and selection bias and why the raw numbers may not tell the whole story. Their conclusion is that the fatality rate in those in their 70s is 1% but it is about 0.125% for the total population.

Now when you talk in numbers, it is easy to forget that we are talking about real people here and that rate is still 6x the rate from the swine flu. But it is nowhere near some of the nightmare scenarios that have been painted. And they also suggest that as testing increases and gets to asymptomatic and people with mild cases, that is probably driving up what appears to be a rapid worldwide spread.

I won’t link to the actual article but here is the website if you want to cut and paste. http://www.cebm.net/global-covid-19-case-fatality-rates/

This article did acknowledge that Italy is an outlier because the death rate there is over 7%. They list some reasons as to why that might be.

But then, along came the second article (here’s the web address http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-18/99-of-those-who-died-from-virus-had-other-illness-italy-says). This one looks at a study done by the Italian health authorities. They’ve studied a percentage of the people who have died and over 99% of them had other illnesses.

Now, they didn’t break this down but about a third had diabetes and a third had heart disease and more than 75% of them had high blood pressure. The vast majority of deaths have been in people who were older than 70. And all of the deaths in people under 40 (in the cases they reviewed) were males with serious existing medical conditions.

None of this is to say we shouldn’t be taking this seriously. The experience in Italy proves that if this spreads into a high risk group of people, the results are going to overwhelm the medical system. Which is why we need the social distancing.

This could just be my bias in wanting to look on the bright side but these are two papers that are studying the actual numbers. If we can keep the high risk groups safe, then this is not going to be anywhere near as bad as some of the doomsayers were predicting in the beginning. And I think it also illustrates that just reporting the raw count of new cases isn’t sufficient to give the entire picture.

There’s evidence that the situation in Washington state is slowing down and they were the first and hardest hit and have been doing the social distancing for a longer period of time. So I have hope that this will mostly end up being a couple weeks of inconvenience.

I will also say that there are a few more sites I’m going to start tuning out. I don’t like talking about politics but I will admit that I tend to run to the libertarian side of things. But I’m really getting tired of hearing some of the more extreme voices talking about the government trampling rights. There was one who even argued that it would be acceptable to have more people die rather than having the government close everything. Because we should have the right to continue to go about our daily lives as if there wasn’t a highly contagious virus lurking around.

I understand the sentiment but I can’t get on board. I’ve said before that I’m cynical and I generally don’t trust big government bureaucracies. There is no doubt that governments have and will be less than truthful if they can get away with it. I’m certainly not happy that they’ve taken these steps. But if it prevents a total collapse of our medical system, then I’m sorry that is more important.

I also am getting weary of reading complaints about the rescue measures. Again, I get the sentiment. I’m not a fan of big government spending and interference in the economy. But are you going to let businesses of all types fail and throw people out of work when it wasn’t their fault that this virus showed up? I just can’t behind that type of rigid ideological thinking. OK, I have to stop talking about these things now because I’m not wanting to turn this into a political discussion. Just had to rant a bit.

It is going to take awhile to put things back together but I just have to believe we are going to knock this virus down and get our lives back to some type of normal. And it is going to happen sooner than the prophets of doom are predicting.

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