COVID-19: deaths and reopening

INTRODUCTION
The COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. This is defined as when an infectious disease passes easily from person to person in many parts of the world at the same time.

The material in this blog comes from two BBC News articles dated May 28 and 29, 2020. To read these articles, click HERE and HERE.

USA VERSUS REST OF WORLD
The death toll in the US became the highest in the world in early April and has risen dramatically since then.

President Donald Trump initially said “50 to 60,000” people could die during the outbreak but in May he said he was hopeful the toll would be lower than 100,000. That benchmark has now been hit though and there are still about 1,000 deaths a day on average.

Top 10 countries rocked by Covid 19 deaths

Figure 1: Bar chart is total deaths by country. Dots on the right show mortality rates or deaths per 100,000 population.

Rather than focus on deaths, Mr Trump has preferred to cite the mortality rate – that is the number of people that have died divided by the country’s population – as evidence that the US has dealt with the virus more effectively than some other nations.

The chart above shows the countries with the highest death tolls and, to the right, their mortality rate. The US score is 30 and much less than UK, Italy, and Spain whose scores are 55-58. In these countries a greater proportion of the population has died during the coronavirus outbreak.

But in New York – the worst-hit state in the US – the mortality rate is close to 150 people in every 100,000, which is much worse than all the European countries in Figure 1. In a deeper dive, a previous blog suggested that perhaps 20,000 lives might have been saved if the US had acted quicker to impose virus lockdowns (can read about that HERE.)

NY Covid 19 deaths tracking
Figure 2: In the right panel, each little peak may represent a state (or small group of states) getting an exponential uptick in the virus.

HAS THE USA GONE PAST THE DEATH PEAK?
In many European countries (except the UK) daily deaths have come down substantially and are way past their peak (see Figure 3).

But that’s not the case in the USA (see Figure 2). Rather than one large outbreak, there have been multiple centers of infection that developed at different times and spread at different rates.

In New York, the virus struck early, spread quickly and peaked in early April (see Figure 2). In the rest of the US, however, the number of daily deaths has been slow to fall.

The USA is not free and clear: compare Figures 2 and 3. About a third of all states saw more deaths last week compared to the week before, with Rhode Island, Mississippi and Ohio seeing some of the largest percentage increases. In the USA people are still exposed to the virus, but it varies state by state. People should be more careful in some US states than in others.

Worst hit European Covid 19 deaths

Figure 3: Virus has mostly left European countries, but not the USA (see Figure 2.)

UPDATE NEW MEXICO
The death rate in New Mexico (one of the smaller rates in the USA), has finally peaked. See Figure 4.

Total deaths in New Mexico is 335 – significantly under the number of 500 average predicted by the Washington State model in my second blog about coronavirus (click HERE to read that.) So the state has done better than expected.

New Mexico are opening up (at partial capacity) restaurants, gyms, salons and malls starting June 1.

NM Covid 19 Deaths per day
Figure 4: Death rates in New Mexico have finally started coming down. The northwest of the state, including Native American tribes, has been hit hard.

TAKEAWAYS:
• The WHO has warned that the pandemic is a long way from being over and said people should be prepared for new outbreaks to build up very quickly – especially in areas where lockdowns are lifted.
• The USA is not free and clear: compare Figures 2 and 3. About a third of all states saw more deaths last week compared to the week before, with Rhode Island, Mississippi and Ohio seeing some of the largest percentage increases.
• In the USA people are still exposed to the virus, but it varies state by state. People should be more careful in some US states than in others.
• New Mexico has done better than predicted in reducing deaths due to the COVID-19 virus. The state is opening up (at partial capacity) restaurants, gyms, salons and malls starting June 1. Total deaths in New Mexico is 335 as of May 28, 2020.

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BLOG TOPICS: I write content (in-depth) blogs about a mix of topics: Health and Hiking, Inspiration and Hope, and Science and Energy.
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The Gray Nomad ….. Please don’t stop – try to keep your distance from other people.
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“Whoever is thirsty should come to me and drink. As the scripture says,‘Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will pour out from his heart.’”
[Book of John, chapter 7].

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Karen Larre
Karen Larre
5 months ago

Thanks, Ian!

Gray Nomad
Gray Nomad
5 months ago

In 2020, Native Americans in New Mexico were hard hit by the COVID-19 virus. Doctors without Borders, a terrific NGO who usually operate in under-developed countries overseas, came to town. The Native American death rate is 19 times all other residents of New Mexico combined, according to the state Department of Health. They account for 57% of the state’s cases despite being only 11% of the population.

Potential explanations are: (1) Poor access to an underfunded health system (many live on remote tribal lands in the northwest part of New Mexico). (2) High rates of chronic illnesses (diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic alcohol use, etc). (3) Uranium exposure (leftover tailings from many uranium mines in the 1950s). (4) Poor air quality (from emissions at coal mines and power stations, and oil and gas wells). (5) poor water quality (30% of homes do not have running water). (6) Virus threats were issued in English and Spanish, but not in tribal languages.

This was reported in The Albuquerque Journal on 31 May 2020.

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