Some Perspective

I have appended the number of COVID-19-related deaths to a ranking of the leading causes of mortality in Virginia, based on 2017 data, the most recently available from the Centers for Disease Control.

The number of COVID-19 deaths will increase, of course. For purposes of comparison, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that Virginia could experience 1,543 deaths — roughly equivalent to the number of drug overdoses.

(Hat tip: Sheila Gunst)


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19 responses to “Some Perspective

  1. James,
    Thank you for the perspective. Another cause of death in the Commonwealth is a ratio of 14 per 100,000 population (at population of about 8.5 million that works out to slightly more than 1100 per year).

  2. Ugh, this type thing is SO bad. It’s designed to be “Gotcha, coronavirus ain’t nothing compared to cancer and heart disease! FACE!”

    If you’re going to go that route why not add all the externalized factors of global warming caused by burning dirty fossil fuels that lead to millions of deaths?

    The reality is that, in most cases, cancer isn’t a contagion (unless you regard “getting cancer” from, say, toxic waste dumps in poor people’s neighborhoods).

    Rather, coronavirus deaths are “lower” at the moment because quarantine-like measures are in place. Preventative directives are being utilized to keep the death rates lower to the best ability possible. Take all those measures away and we have a virulent localized pandemic on our hands where the death rates would dwarf cancer in a matter of days.

    So hat tip? More like “go stand in the corner,” because it’s a bad faith and contextless comparison.

    C’mon people, we can do so much better than this.

    • I made no editorial comments, and drew no conclusions I posted these numbers as a way to get the conversation started.

      I do think it is a legitimate question to ask: Would we turn Virginia’s economy topsy turvy in order to eradicate 1,600 annual deaths caused by, say, kidney disease? An appropriate response might be, there is no risk of kidney disease becoming a exponentially expanding epidemic in the absence of strong measures to counteract it. And there might be a legitimate riposte to that, and so forth.

      • And it’s legitimate to ask: Could homicides expand exponentially if everyone is forced to stay home for the next 2-3 months?


      • Is it really a useful discussion though?

        It is just going to boil down to some readers using that table to say that this is overblown and proceed to link to a partisan blog arguing why human lives do not matter and how Boomers should (and are willing to) sacrifice themselves for the economy.

        All of that will stop the moment someone that they know or love is hooked up to a ventilator.

        • I think you under-estimate the intelligence of Bacon’s Rebellion readers. Furthermore, just because some people might draw untenable conclusions doesn’t mean that the question is not useful.

          Why don’t you explain what you think of the data presented, and why you think it. Explain why you think the presentation is flawed or incomplete.

          As I did for a different post, I offer this pyramid as a guide for the kind of discussion I’d like to encourage.

    • Got a little carried away with our comment did we, Chick???

      Maybe reread Jim’s to you.

  3. It will be interesting after this is over to look at the Flu #s for 2020, comparing to previous years.

    I would expect them to go down because of social distancing, although the same demographic cohort (older people) are probably the ones dying from the flu. My own mother died of the flu in 2006 and many others in the senior facility in Bridgewater where my father lived did as well.

    The number of VA deaths because of Covid-19 will end up being less than they would have been had social distancing orders and closing businesses not been issued. With no social distancing, the US estimated number of deaths were 1-2M, one could extrapolate Virginia’s numbers from that. Yesterday, Birx and Fauci told Trump even with social distancing, the US may still see 100-200,000 deaths.

    The Flu #s would provide some sort of comparison, on a percentage basis.

  4. You’re right. In most states people know the risks and can keep track of their local situation. Given the paucity of testing in Virginia that may not be true. However, at some point government has to trust the people to make good choices. If you are afraid of getting the virus – stay home. if you’re willing to take your chances – go out. If you want to open your restaurant – do so. If you want to stay with carry out only – stay with carry out only.

    At some point (maybe not today but soon) we have to decide we understand this epidemic well enough to start loosening the restrictions. For one thing, I’ll be amazed if America’s locked down cities don’t start to experience civil unrest. The young will only stay cooped up for so long. As the weather improves I can’t see the police enforcing “stay inside” orders without draconian methods. And I can’t see those draconian methods happening without a counterforce up to and eventually including riots.

  5. You’re not trying hard enough!!
    Practice people, practice. We’re new with this COVID-19 stuff. We’ll get the hang of it.

  6. Did Haner give you that ridiculous pyramid?

    • What ridiculous pyramid? I see a really thoughtful, enlightening pyramid, but not a ridiculous one.

      Methinks that you calling it “ridiculous” falls into the bottom level, “name calling”!

      • I like the concept of the pyramid and the various categories, but I was a little confused about it at first. I would rather turn it upside down to depict the goals of this blog: the top three categories representing the majority of the comments (probably counterargument would be the largest category).

      • “What ridiculous pyramid? I see a really thoughtful, enlightening pyramid, but not a ridiculous one.”

        And this is representative of the middle tier, contradiction. You’ll need to try harder if you want to make it to the top…


      • Jim, how you see and how Peter sees the pyramid says it all. Maybe time for some virtual social distancing.

  7. OK – so Dr Fauci says ~100-200K deaths. Now Virginia has about 1/38 of the US population, so if we have “US typical” deaths here, that’s around 2600-5200 deaths in Virginia. Given the higher population concentration in NoVa with more overwhelmed health care here than across the country generally, now and forecast, those Virginia forecast death numbers are probably low. That’s my perspective. Whatever you think of this back of the envelope calculation, we’re looking at thousands dead in Virginia — mainly among elderly patients. Get real, people!

    In one month I intend to revisit this estimate; let’s HOPE I can eat crow then.

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