The May 22 UVA COVID-19 Model weekly report says the virus transmission rate dropped below 1.0 in the past week. It had averaged 2.2 prior to March 15. Here’s the explanation of what that means:
Researchers use the transmission rate of a disease, often referred to as R-naught (R0), to measure how fast it spreads. R0 is roughly the number of people one sick person infects. So a transmission rate of 2.0 means that, on average, one sick person infects two others with the disease. The key number for transmission rates is 1.0. At an R0 above 1.0, the infection will spread. But below 1.0 the infection will die out…
Based on onset date, the R0 of COVID-19 in Virginia dipped below 1.0 beginning on May 10.
The reproductive rate is 0.998 based on an onset date 14 days ending May 10.
Let me repeat that: “Below 1.0 the infection will die out.”
The report adds: “However this rate is still preliminary.” Nonetheless, the Virginia Department of Health proclaims, “543,775 Cases Avoided so far” because of social distancing and other mitigations.
If a light rebound occurs because of the “slight lift of public health restrictions” on May 15, VDH predicts a peak of 38,456 cases during the week ending August 9.
If it’s strong, the prediction rises to a peak of 65,454 per week during the week ending July 26.
The more likely truth is the numbers would not have reached half a million, even without the shutdown. Yes, there would have been more cases, but we know by the number of asymptomatic cases turning up as positive tests, there have been more cases than we have counted, and more that will only be discovered should antibody testing become routine.
And yes, this virus can be deadly, even outside the closed systems of nursing homes and prisons. Those who are vulnerable because they need to take immune suppressants, and those who have any of a range of autoimmune conditions, or heart or lung issues, will have to maintain self-protective actions for some time to come. Actually, I am not sure life will ever return to a carefree and unprotected “normal” for them.
I do not advocate filling auditoriums, convention centers and other indoor places now. Stores should be able to open with reasonable capacity limits if their ventilation systems are kept clean and well filtered. I do hope controls on outdoor activities will be lifted immediately to get people out in the sunshine and hot weather to not only strengthen their immune systems, but lift their spirits.
But we don’t need grandiose statements from VDH of how many hundreds of thousands of cases have been avoided. To me, this falls under the category of the emperor’s new clothes.
Carol J. Bova is a writer in Mathews County and on the staff of Chesapeake Style magazine.There are currently no comments highlighted.