By Edward Achorn
My friends in the news media, evidently determined to promote a panic narrative all the way to the end, are not publicizing this information widely. So I thought I would.
The overall mortality rates in America — deaths from all factors — have, since Labor Day, sunk below the baseline of expected deaths. See the charts above, based on CDC data.
That means COVID-19 is no longer killing more people than could be expected to die in a normal year. This is true even for people 85 and older. The spike of last April is long over.
Shape of the curve
More good news: Despite a continuing dump of death statistics from days, weeks and months ago attributed to COVID-19, the basic shape of the curve is holding, as this chart shows. (Courtesy of Dr. Andrew Bostom, an epidemiologist and Brown University medical professor.)
The data says this: There was a spike in COVID-19-related deaths of mainly old and sick people in April — centered in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts — followed by weeks of steep declines.
Months later there was a smaller uptick of deaths in the Southern states. (This curve mimics that of a normal influenza season, with its large number of deaths in the North, and a fainter echo in the South.) Those deaths in the Sunbelt peaked in July and continue to decline.
Many of my Facebook friends were angry at me for reporting this curve, insisting the nation would equal or exceed the deaths of April because of supposedly reckless Sunbelt governors. I am happy the data suggests their fears were unfounded.
The true numbers
In addition, data continually shows that initial projections of the disease’s lethality were vastly exaggerated. Those projections prompted power-hungry (or risk-averse) politicians to lock down the entire society, at an immense cost to the public in lost businesses, lost health care and lost opportunities.
The new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging.
The survival rates for COVID-19, for those infected, have been extremely good.
Ages 0-19, 99.997 percent.
20-49, 99.98 percent.
50-69, 99.5 percent.
70 and older, 94.6 percent.
Not at significant risk
In short, most people are not at significant risk. Lightning strikes, for example, are far more likely to kill young children than COVID-19.
Dr. Bostom notes that 48,000-plus C-19 “positive” test results of college students this semester have resulted in a near absence of hospitalizations and zero reported deaths.
That is good news. Given such stunning results, Dr. Bostom is exploring the accuracy of those tests.
On the scary side, federal bureaucrat Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been propelled to national celebrity by the fears surrounding COVID-19, warns that a second wave of COVID-19 could strike.
Anything could happen. Diseases are not always predictable. But a new study of influenza and past pandemics questions the “second wave” theory. There is “much greater evidence of unchanged or lessening severity over time and with some newer evidence casting doubt on original herald wave theories,” the study finds. Let us hope that applies to COVID-19, too.
Effects of panic
The panic is understandable, given the hysterical tone of much media coverage and the frantic responses of public officials, unfounded in science, that continue to this day.
Surveys show that Americans grossly overestimate the death toll of COVID-19. A Kekst CNC poll this year found that the public believes 9 percent of the population has been killed by the virus.
In truth, the figure is about one-sixteenth of 1 percent. And that is when we are counting all sorts of deaths, including accident trauma, suicides, and stage-four cancers, as COVID-19-related.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden erroneously said the other day that 200 million Americans have died of COVID-19. That would make two-thirds of the population. The actual number is about 200,000.
As I have long argued, panic does not come without a price. Americans, driven by fear, have lost their businesses, surrendered their civil liberties, and turned to politicians as soothsayers and scientific experts, which they are anything but.
In some cases, we have lost our empathy and common humanity.
Last week, a police officer and a hefty woman cruelly strongarmed and tased a slender young mother for failing to wear a mask outdoors at her son’s middle school football game, even though she was minding her own business, socially distanced from other people — and even though there is no scientific proof masks work outdoors. The mask dictate was only a made-up rule, not a law duly passed by the legislature.
I think we may look back on this period of mass hysteria with some shame. I hope so.
In the meantime, we should take reasonable precautions, such as washing hands frequently, and not spreading sickness when symptomatic. But we should not be overcome with fear about a virus that appears to be receding and is not nearly as deadly as originally projected.
(Read Edward Achorn’s books about American history.)