Time to Be Honest about COVID-19

By Peter Galuszka

Two remarkable stories dominate headlines this morning – Donald Trump has COVID-19 and some 5,000 Virginia college students also have the virus.

The infection of Trump throws an already chaotic presidential race into further confusion. State colleges are scrambling to find what to do about viral infections since the numbers have exploded from about 500 a month ago to 5,000 today.

This is no time to say, “I told you so,” but many on this blog really need to ask themselves about their efforts to minimize the worst health crisis the nation has faced. Already 205,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, but somehow that has not deterred the naysayers.

We have seen a steady and often snarky campaign to reopen Virginia Beach, send kids back to school too soon, reopen business and blame Gov. Ralph Northam for trying to take needed precautions that just about every other state governor has done.

It’s as if bloggers and commenters here have been taking their cues from Trump who lied about the dangers of the virus earlier this year, has ridiculed wearing face masks and has handed out inaccurate or dishonest information about efforts to contain the pandemic. He has even contradicted his own health professionals.

Here in Virginia, teachers associations have warned about the dangers of premature in-class instruction. Bloggers here have insulted them by calling them cowards.

Of the 5,000 college students infected, some 3,000 are at Virginia Tech, James Madison and the University of Virginia, some of the largest schools. According to the New York Times, some 130,000 students have been infected nationally.

A few more takeaways about today’s news: Trump’s illness makes the election, just a month away, even murkier. He and his wife are in quarantine and have had to cancel campaign events. How long he’ll be out is anyone’s guess.

Trump, who has mocked wearing masks, is at greater risk because of his age and obesity. Consider that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson nearly died in an intensive care unit after he caught the virus a few months ago.

In Tuesday’s absolutely awful debate, Trump continued to belittle the danger of the virus.

Here in Virginia, Gov. Northam and his wife also have COVID 19. After that new was released, the Northams were targets of unfair and downright stupid criticism. I cringed when I read such things on this blog.

In any event, it’s time for a real examination of the threat of COVID-19. As it stands, Bacon’s Rebellion is very much on the wrong side of history.

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60 responses to “Time to Be Honest about COVID-19

  1. 0-19 99.997%
    20-49 99.98%
    50-69 99.5%
    70+ 94.6%

    Let’s start with facts. Those are the latest CDC survival averages by age for those infected. So for those under 20, 3 in 100,000 die, mostly the older teens at risk. Under 50, 2 in 10,000. Of those infected, not the total population. Age 50-69, and 5 in 1000 infected die, again higher risk with age. So a discussion of the truth is this sucker is not that deadly, as Northam and Trump and spouses are likely to prove. Even over 70, only about 6 percent of those infected die – a number you will not see reported generally.

    Saw the news this morning and looked at my wife and said, no way now they will let our struggling 2nd grade grandson back into his school soon. Which is tragic.

  2. I agree, Peter, let’s be honest about COVID-19. One place to start is to honestly state the arguments of those you criticize. The commentators here mainly have discussed the tradeoffs associated with combating the virus — lost business activity, lost jobs, lost liberties, lost tax revenues, loss school time, and unintended consequences for mental health. (I did post a graphic early in the epidemic comparing COVID deaths to flu deaths, which minimized the severity of COVID compared to the flu, so I’ll fess up to that.) Part of the discussion about tradeoffs is making a realistic assessment of who is getting the virus and who is dying from it (see Steve Haner’s comment above), and how public policy should flow from that.

    So, yeah, Trump got the virus. Given his behavior, that was bound to happen. No one is going to waste any sympathy on him.

    And 5,000 Virginia college kids have gotten the virus. Let’s see how many are hospitalized, and how many die from it. Every death is tragic for the individual involved and his family, but far more deaths among college kids occur from other causes, and nobody freaks out about those.

    At some point, people are going to conclude that life must go on, and we have to learn to live with the virus. The state should focus its resources on protecting the vulnerable, and the vulnerable should focus on protecting themselves. And everyone else needs to reasonable precautions to slow the spread of the disease. But the world doesn’t have to end.

  3. Steve. You can dice and slice your”facts” all day to fit your narrative. But you can’t spin this fact: 205,000 dead. That’s a lot more than Vietnam and WW 1 combined.
    Jim, I don’t know how to respond. Maybe you should reread the blog. I suggest starting with Kerry .

    • 208,000. And for those in the 65 to 74 it’s 8% mortality rate.

      That, of course, assumes that he really did test positive; this is not an honest man.

    • I’m not going to tell you, go look it up. What have been the total # 0f deaths from all causes during the measured period? Just for a bit of context….anybody care about the rest of them? No, no gain there.

  4. Of course…the population of the USA is a lot more than it was back in Vietnam and WWI. You know, back when all you old farts could get on the newly-built Interstate and commute from the suburbs to downtown in 20 minutes, that might have been due to the population being a lot less back then. Ya think?

    • U.S. population in 1918 was 103,200,000. And 675,000 died from the “Spanish” Flu.

      Based on percentage of population that’s the equivalent of 2.13 Million people dying in 2020.

  5. “but many on this blog really need to ask themselves about their efforts to minimize the worst health crisis the nation has faced. ”

    Not to diminish the severity of Covid, but the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic killed about 675K in the U.S. when the population was about 105 million. We are now at about 205K for Covid with a population of 330 million. Covid is still going, but 1918 was about 10X as deadly at this point.

  6. Izzo. You are right about the Spanish fly. My bad. Will fix if I can get into the system

  7. Ripper. Over what? Thirty years. This is for about six months.

  8. “We have seen a steady and often snarky campaign to reopen Virginia Beach, send kids back to school too soon … ”

    Have any of the Virginia counties that opened their public schools with either full time or part time in-person attendance had to close because of an outbreak?

  9. Izzo. I don’t doubt your COPD statement. But it has been around for years. Covid 19 has not. Who I blame? Our blowhard in chief Donald Trump.

  10. No, I do not blame Trump for originating the pandemic. But his incompetence in handling it is criminal. The man lied.

    • My view on this matter is that Trump is limited in what he can do with regards to Covid-19 because of Federalism. The powers of the Federal government are limited. Therefore it is not really fair to blame Trump for what has happened with COVID-19 without also — at least — acknowledging that the actions of 50 state governors may set them up for some blame as well.

      • So the Federals should not be doing stuff of the CDC and FDA, let the states do it?

        • I don’t think there’s any question that the CDC and FDA are Federal responsibilities.

          Nobody has ever explained how Trump’s actions or lack thereof have affected what the CDC or FDA has done or not done in regards to COVID-19. Perhaps you can be the first?

        • Trump’s powers with regards to the CDC and the FDA are limited.

          How do you think Trump has influenced the CDC and FDA?

          • Oh it’s pretty clear that he has influenced them, no?

            The point here is that he does have subtantial power with regard to COVID-19 as well as a bully pulpit.

            He also could have taken the lead on things like testing and got enough tests to places like restaurants and schools (k12/higher ed) so they could test their staffs frequently enough to find virus spread quickly.

            It’s the lack of testing and wearing of masks that has hurt re-opening.

            If the Federal government leads the way and helps with resources – it works much better – just like it does with FEMA and disasters… the Feds take the lead.

        • He’s the President, not a dictator. His powers are limited and he can’t just order Federal agencies around.

          Anymore than a city mayor can order the Public Works department to pave his driveway (ok, I’m sure that’s happened somewhere, probably right here in Virginia, but that doesn’t make it moral or legal).

  11. Idiocracy. I am not a partisan hack on the left and I no longer tolerate attacks on my character and integrity. Clean up or face my lawyers.

  12. Meanwhile we got:

    “The Coronavirus College Scam – My son’s university invited him back to campus for remote classes at $70,000 a year. He got a job instead.”
    By Stephen Moore, Oct. 1, 2020 7:20 pm ET

    “My 20-year-old son attends Villanova University. It is a fine school, but this year it costs $70,000 a year for room, board and tuition—for online classes. This fall most colleges are charging full tuition to families like mine to have kids on campus without real classrooms. This is like going to a restaurant and never getting served, but still getting handed the bill.

    My son decided to take a pass, and a full-time job instead. He’ll learn some valuable life skills from that experience, and he’ll likely go back when classes are back open. But millions of young people are back on campus this fall. In many college towns, crowded dorms, fraternities, sororities and bars are open.

    According to one report, college students represent 19 of the 25 hottest coronavirus outbreaks in the country with some 40,000 positive cases recorded in September, so administrators are suspending or even expelling students for irresponsible behaviors like going to crowded parties. But what did college presidents expect when they invited students back?

    My 20-year-old son attends Villanova University. It is a fine school, but this year it costs $70,000 a year for room, board and tuition—for online classes. This fall most colleges are charging full tuition to families like mine to have kids on campus without real classrooms. This is like going to a restaurant and never getting served, but still getting handed the bill.

    My son decided to take a pass, and a full-time job instead. He’ll learn some valuable life skills from that experience, and he’ll likely go back when classes are back open. But millions of young people are back on campus this fall. In many college towns, crowded dorms, fraternities, sororities and bars are open.

    According to one report, college students represent 19 of the 25 hottest coronavirus outbreaks in the country with some 40,000 positive cases recorded in September, so administrators are suspending or even expelling students for irresponsible behaviors like going to crowded parties. But what did college presidents expect when they invited students back?

    Why? Follow the money. American higher education is a big business, with total annual revenue of about $600 billion. Last spring, …”

    For more, see today’s Wall Street Journal at:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-coronavirus-college-scam-11601594436?

  13. Idiocracy. Understood and accepted. I promise not to insult you and I will accept your views. Peter

  14. If it’s not such a big deal then why is everybody and their dog getting tested at the White House and Congress?

    Remember: ” we test too much” ?

    right?

    the other thing – If Trump survives this and there is a high likelihood he will – imagine what he is going to be like afterwards ? lord o’mighty…

  15. Peter G.: Interesting that you had nothing to say on September 27, when How Well is VDH Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks? listed 3319 cases at four universities while VDH only reported 1736.

    VDH is still only reporting 26 college/university outbreaks with a total of 1823 cases.

    I guess we’re supposed to blame the President for VDH’s failures with controlling infections in nursing homes and reporting on outbreaks instead of insisting it’s a state responsibility.

    • Are they all Virginians? If those students were sent home, why would VDH record them as Virginia cases when, oh say, New Jersey will. That would really screw up the nation’s totals.

      • Wouldn’t they be recorded as cases in the state where they tested positive?

        • Don’t know. Do they vote here?

          • I don’t know. It seems logical to me that a COVID-19 positive would be recorded in the state that the test took place.

            Otherwise, if the COVID-19 positive was tested in Virginia and the residence of the individual is in New Jersey….

            …how is Virginia going to inform New Jersey of that positive test result?

            By way of comparison, consider how long it took and how much cooperation was involved before Virginia could tell New Jersey about a speeding ticket one of their residents got here.

        • Not by VDH. For example, with the two big poultry processing plant outbreaks in May, VDH did not report those workers who lived out of state in the locality numbers. No way to see what they posted in outbreaks because they don’t identify the specific facilities in Congregate Settings.

      • If they were residing at a Virginia college, they should have been reported in the Virginia stats. Recording is done by residence as of the date of the test, not what happens later.

        • You sure about that? You have the documentation?

          What if I test positive at Disneyland?

          Thes kids tested positive, by the school and were sent home. If VDH is not reporting out-of-state, ask them.

          I’m offering only a possibility that those positives are handed to their home state.

          • Rec’d 9/24 from VDH:

            “Like all persons who are tested for SARS-CoV-2, students are asked to provide an address at the time they are tested. We do not have control over whether students report their home or university address. However, VDH is able to link confirmed and probable cases in students, regardless of if they provide their home or school address, to outbreaks in institutes of higher learning that have been reported to VDH.”

          • There ya go. They CAN, but obviously AREN’T.

  16. Cjbova. Interesting that I do not follow this every day. I can’t verify your figures.

  17. With a documented rate of 2 lies/hour, why would anyone believe him now? If he dies, I’d believe him, but then the WH would probably claim he slipped in the shower.

    • Is that more or less than average for all politicians?

    • I think they’ve already been counting people who died from falling in the shower as COVID deaths.

      • Wasn’t someone who died in a motorcycle wreck counted as a COVID-19 death? And then, after the publicity about it, was removed from the COVID-19 death count? I think this happened in Florida…does this ring a bell for anyone?

        • people who die – is everyone who dies these days tested for COVID19? Like everyone who dies from an auto accident?

          • My understanding that everyone who dies these days is in fact tested for COVID-19. If anyone else knows different feel free to chime in.

      • Gasping for air as they fell.

        Sure, alot of people have heart conditions, COPD, diabetes, then test positive for coronavirus.. But, these people with diabetes and such could have lived normal lives for 10+ years. If they had corona, they died from corona.

  18. What goes around may come around. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJgTX-QNtjM

  19. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    388,000 Americans (yes Johnny Rebs too) died of disease during the Civil War. 32,000 Virginians were casualties and about 55% of this number is death by disease. If you want to geek out on death statistics of Virginians at war the Library of Virginia has a terrific database. You have to remember this about the Civil War. The average Virginian in 1860 had never traveled more than 30 miles from home before. The men were thrown together from far and wide and created the perfect storm for infectious disease.

    PS: in case you were wondering. One Virginian actually died in the Grenada Island Operation.

    https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/vmd/vmdintro.htm

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