We stand and watch

Courtesy photo

Several states have begun the process of re-opening for business. Let’s benchmark the status of the epidemic so that over the coming weeks we can gauge the outcome.

The world has experienced more than the estimated 3.5 million cases including 250,000 deaths; the United States has reported 1.2 million cases including 6,800 deaths.

These numbers continue to increase exponentially. Georgia case rate has increased 40% since reopening their economy. The case rate and the fatality rate South Dakota has reported 2,721 cases and 24 deaths with only nine cases and no deaths in Lawrence County.

In contrast with most of the rest of the United States the case rate and the fatality rate are decreasing, in striking contrast to the 44% increase in cases reported here last week.

These data seem to be very encouraging – further evidence that mitigation steps are working. Unfortunately, the Johns Hopkins University modeling group, has estimated the cost in lives of this reopening. The strongest model predicts a total in the US of 2,000 deaths per day in May and 3,000 deaths per day in June as these restrictions on social gatherings are lifted.

We often used to joke that the value of the human body in terms of the value of the elements it contains was $0.90 (it is high than that now — maybe $5. Now we are faced with a new price point.

If we lose 3,000 citizens daily next month (for a total of 90,000 dead in June) is it worth the cost? In comparison 58,000 service members were lost over the entire Vietnam War.

Is it worth the drink at your favorite bar that is now open, or the meal at even the nicest restaurant? Now that our social mitigation efforts have just begun to work, is it really the time to abandon them?

Dr. John Andrews, “Doc John” of Lead, has a doctorate in virology, immunology, and microbiology who, after a career in developing prescription drugs, is now working on drug development to target COVID-19. He will be offering columns every two weeks about the progress of finding a vaccine for the virus.

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