COVID19: For mortality rate, cases/day is everything

Over the last few days my attitude on COVID-19 has totally flipped (as I’m sure it has for many, but not enough, people).

1) Cases per day matters

Earlier, I thought COVID19 is less problematic than the flu since the flu kills so many (more) people every year. But unlike the flu, this is going to result in a ton of severe cases all in a very short window. This can lead to nightmare scenarios where there is not enough intensive care equipment for the sudden influx of patients. These patients will sometimes need to remain on it for up to 2 or 3 weeks, since all we can do is wait for the body to heal itself.

Doctors then have to choose who to give lifesaving equipment to. If everyone got care, the fatality rate of COVID-19 can be low (but still 3x that of the flu), ~0.5%. But when the ICU is overrun, then we start getting 5% fatality rates or more. 10x difference in death rate.

2) Escalation

The other point I learned is that Wuhan has a population of 60 million, roughly the size of Spain or France, and went into lock-down with 400 confirmed cases. This involved canceling lunar new years celebrations, which are culturally kind of like 4th of July, New Years, and Thanksgiving all in a single holiday. I’m sure the decision was not made lightly, but still made swiftly. In fact Lunar New Years contributed to the urgency since everyone travels at that time.

In reality, since it takes 1-2 weeks to show symptoms, and the number of infected people (when not in lockdown) roughly doubles every 2 to 5 days, there were already thousands of cases which would soon lead to tens of thousands of cases.

3) Notify locals

I’ll follow-up in the morning with sources for all this in the morning, but basically the summary is that we all need to behave as if we are in lockdown already, even if the politicians are slow to act. Otherwise, we are going to see the grim scenarios of overworked doctors and nurses, reusing equipment, having to choose who lives and dies.

I’ll further run numbers to show just how bad the situation is.

Hopefully, by adapting these numbers to a local level, we can encourage local authority figures (church leaders, employers, etc.) to act. Or at least stop making people go in to work who don’t absolutely need to.

Todo: make list of places to send letters to, e.g. local (county-level) newspapers, state newspapers. Needs to come from person with ties to feel authentic. Identify people who can decide to close things down.

(I suppose this is easy for me to say, since I do not have kids and have a stable income and can WFH).