Does the COVID risk justify the devastation caused by the lockdown?
In my sleepy suburban town, fourteen miles east of Oakland, California, the COVID fallout to small businesses and restaurants had been nothing less than complete devastation. Dozens of empty storefronts stand as grim tombstones to ruined families, laid off employees, and bankrupt wholesalers and suppliers.
I read news snippets that COVID case are receding and COVID deaths are on the decline. But what are the real numbers in Contra Costa County? To put it mildly, the county government stats are carefully designed to misdirect and scare the casual reader. "Seven day rolling averages" and "cases per 100,000 folks for the past 14 days" are deliberate obfuscations of the normal world of how folks perceive numerical information. Most everyone comfortably uses percentages as a measure of comparison for two numbers. Ten percent is ten in one hundred or a dime out of a dollar. One percent is one in one hundred or a penny out of a dollar.
So, in Contra Costa County, what percentage of people have died from COVID, both in LTCF — long term care facilities (311) — and the general population (413) since this pandemic began a year ago?
In CoCo County, the 65 and older population is 178,630 persons. And they make up the entire LTCF population. So COVID LTCF deaths make up 0.174% of those over 65 years old during the past year.
For the entire county, the percentage COVID LTCF deaths is 0.0267% for the past year.
For the entire county, the percentage of COVID deaths in non-LTCF is 0.0356% for the past year.
For all COVID deaths for the entire county, the total percentage died is 0.0623% for the past year.
So what is the 16- to 49-year-old percentage of COVID deaths for the county?
0.0058% for the past twelve months. Yes, that is a tiny percentage.
For the 50-plus population, the percentage of COVID deaths for the county is 1.07% during the past twelve months. (Nationally, about 0.94% of America's total population passes from all causes each year.)
Our county has had 64,203 positive COVID cases. So the percentage of deaths for positive testing for COVID is 1.13%.
Are you struck, as am I, by how low these percentages are?
For the town I reside in, the percentages of all COVID LTCF deaths (62) are 0.087% of the total population (there is a 15,000-person retirement community in our town). For non-LTCF deaths (16), the percentage is 0.023%. Total COVID deaths run around 0.11% — around a tenth of one percent for the past year.
Were the lockdowns and masks, school closures, business devastations, the massive disruptions of our way of life including our religious practices, funerals, and family visits commensurate with the lethality of this particular viral infection?
Michael Devon is a pen name.
Photo credit: Nicholas Eckhart CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.