Let the Young Be Stupid. Focus on the Outbreaks

by Carol J. Bova

Governor Ralph Northam is cracking down on a surge in COVID-19 cases in Hampton Roads by limiting the serving of alcohol in the region. He’s attacking the wrong problem. You can’t fix stupid, and you can’t make young people listen to advice. Irresponsible youthful behavior will spread the COVID-19 virus, but it won’t overburden hospitals because most young people will weather the illness on their own at home without serious complications.

What do the numbers look like for all of Virginia for the past four weeks?

Yes, the Eastern District had twice the number of new cases the Northern District had, but the Northern District’s 5,000 wasn’t exactly a goose egg on the charts. Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield threw in their share to the nearly 3,700 in the Central District, and the more outlying Southwestern and Northwestern Districts shared another 5,400 between them.

Take a look at the cases by age group. No surprise that older teens through 30-somethings had some high numbers.

But the hospitalizations paint a different picture with only 88 for the 20-29 group, in spite of almost 6,000 cases in July so far. (In June, there were 3,240 cases and 75 hospitalizations for 20-29’s.)

The hospitalization numbers get worse and climb with each additional decade of age, peaking at the 60-69 year-olds.

There are no additional deaths until the 30-39 age group, with only four there. The 40’s and 50’s together had 34. Then the steep climb begins with the 60’s and up.

This is a pandemic with no vaccine and no pre-existing immunity. A lot of people are going to get the virus before it’s over.

If the Honorable Ralph M. Northam wants to address the size of crowds, he could start by issuing orders to stop allowing mobs to run the streets of cities, shouting and destroying public and private property and terrorizing citizens. Their bad behavior doesn’t keep these mobs from getting COVID-19 and spreading it wherever they go.

It’s up to individuals at higher risk to look out for their own health. They can choose not to go out to restaurants. They can use online ordering and parking lot pickup for groceries. If they have to go to a physical store, they can go at off hours and  go where masks are required.

Starting July 22nd, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) provided data downloads for their historical databases for all the sources of COVID-19 information used in the daily Dashboard. They are to be commended for doing this. These downloads provided all the information shown here, and they will be useful to anyone looking for trends and changes over time.

Now, if one of our Governor’s staff could review and summarize some of these numbers for him before press conferences, he might see that his new regions are too large an area to give an accurate picture of what’s happening. The same region can have one health district with one of the highest numbers and another with one of the lowest. Regions don’t come with barrier walls between them. And health district totals don’t show what’s happening in individual localities or which numbers are connected to the still growing number of outbreaks.

Map showing regions used in Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard.

VDH doesn’t have a handle on outbreaks yet in confined living situations, nursing homes, assisted living, group homes, correctional facilities and such. That’s something that should have been addressed months ago before there were 628 outbreaks with 14,086 cases and the 1,281 deaths that are still 60% of all COVID-19 deaths.

Doing that would save a lot more lives and suffering than shutting down alcohol sales at 10 p.m.

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10 responses to “Let the Young Be Stupid. Focus on the Outbreaks

  1. Useful, Carol, thank you.

    https://richmond.com/news/virginia/with-9-in-10-ice-detainees-in-farmville-positive-for-covid-19-warner-and-kaine/article_3daff2ba-0123-550b-a8c2-2ce6bc019e2b.html

    The other interesting story on this front is that ICE facility in Farmville, which Peter G wrote about earlier. It seems like everybody there, 9 in 10 anyway, has tested positive at some point. It’s almost like ICE decided to ship cases there from elsewhere to protect other populations, which has a certain logic. But the political posturing is hilarious, as I’m not sure what anybody can do now to protect that other 10%…..Looks like a nice lab for some testing on herd immunity? (Shocking suggestion, I know….) Looking at the map that seems to be Central Region.

    • still quoting that left wing liberal rag? geeze!

      Here’s the thing about the young and COVID19.

      If it’s really true that they can and will go out and get infected and not need to be hospitalized and not die – then why are the professional sports going ape-crap over player infections?

      And why are all these other states – Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona and California doing similar restrictions? Are they all also wrong?

      Some keep wanting to make this about Virginia.

      The virus don’t give a rip about state boundaries… so this is really about the young across the country – not just in Virginia.

  2. “…then why are the professional sports going ape-crap over player infections?” Agreed, they are overreacting, given they are testing everybody else so heavily (and probably getting faster results than we could.) But The Narrative must be maintained. They are union workers after all — solidarity!

    And in looking at the validity of new STATE government restrictions, it makes perfect sense to look at the underlying STATE data.

    Just checked. We’ve had more deaths in the last couple of days, but they have lag in reporting so many were for days ago. Looking at VDH’s own charts, every single region is averaging 1 or fewer than 1 death per day except Eastern Region, which is about 2. Not my numbers, the state’s. Yes, a week from now that could be higher. But maybe not if it truly is mostly younger people now.

    • Professional sports is “overreacting”? I dunno… they certainly have a strong monetary motive to get back to making money….

      Again – we’re talking about most all of them – are ALL of them overreacting and there is not a split where some say the others are overreacting and they are not?

      One would think of all businesses that professional sports could reach herd immunity quickly.

      But one coach came on and said he had a heart condition and other players came on and said they were worried about their family members.

      Is it true – that we really can segregate society into the young who will get infected and do ok – and others who are vulnerable, but we keep them separated?

      or does virus not care and will cross those lines everywhere it can and the young and dumb will end up infected the more vulnerable if we don’t use the same rules for everyone?

    • Still at 4 deaths for 20-29. Last death in that group was Jun 27.
      In last 7 days, 74 deaths: 2 in 30’s, 2 in 40’s, and 70 in age 50 and up.

  3. Carol:

    I love your intentions but there doesn’t seem to be a day without some new COVID-19 information or research coming out. Today it was a study that found children under 5 can be serious carriers of the disease. So the 20-something daycare workers and preschool teachers are out partying and the next day they go to work and spread the disease to little Biff and Buffy. Little Biff and Buffy go home and infect Mom, Dad and Grandma too. Worse yet, little Biff and Buffy were only in daycare because their Dad and Mom are both middle school teachers who had to go back to in-person teaching.

    https://fortune.com/2020/07/30/children-covid-carriers-kids-coronavirus-schools-reopening-viral-load-study/

    • Very true that researchers learn more every day, but what gets communicated to the public isn’t always the full story. The quoted author of the JAMA article, Dr. Heald-Sargent, found the 45 young children studied had “more viral nucleic acid in their upper respiratory tract” than those in the older groups. The study was not measuring the infectious virus. “Our study is limited to detection of viral nucleic acid, rather than infectious virus, although SARS-CoV-2 pediatric studies reported a correlation between higher nucleic acid levels and the ability to culture infectious virus.5 ” And went on to say children could “potentially be important drivers of SAR-Cov-2 spread in the general population.” It recommended targeting immunization efforts toward those younger children when vaccines become available. So yes, there’s a potential issue, but it hasn’t shown up yet in the number of children and adults who would have been tested if parents, caregivers, and teachers had gotten sick.

      On the other hand, “A school-based study (10 high school and five primary schools) from New South Wales traced the close contacts (735 students and 128 staff) of 18 initial COVID-19 cases (nine students and nine staff) to see who they subsequently infected. They found that two children (secondary cases) may have contracted COVID-19 from the initial cases at their schools [5]. The authors highly suspected, but were unable to confirm, that one of the pupils was infected after close contact with two pupils in high school. They found no evidence of children infecting teachers or staff members.”
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7323934/

      There’s a bigger problem if Virginia preschool teachers and daycare workers (not all of whom are in their 20s), are out partying indiscriminately, and not following infection prevention protocols at work. If that’s happening, or will happen with the recent surge, we should be seeing evidence soon, if not already, considering the number of essential workers needing to use daycare now. Fact is, we have 26 educational setting outbreaks with a total of 118 cases since March. Those include college; daycare/pre-K; and K-12.

      • No fair reading the actual study!

      • Excellent article, Carol.

        Your report helps to correct the mass of state government misinformation that is being peddled to the public and your work helps to put the state’s propaganda campaign into its proper perspective. This helps to deflate the scare tactics being deployed by Virginia against its own citizens.

        Unfortunately, this difficult and time consuming job of truth telling is now left to private citizens to protect fellow citizens from their own government.

  4. bottom line – there is still not consensus and agreement about it and yet we’re willing to “risk it”, i.e. risk the teachers – and if they don’t want to risk it – bad on them…..

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