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Column – Death rates for virus are very low

We have been inundated with data about the Coronavirus since March.  The news media has covered the issue relentlessly for more than five months, giving most of us an unending fear that we all are going to get COVID-19 and will probably die.  Most are living in unbridled fear for themselves and their loved ones.

Just this last week, a national poll was released that many of those polled, when asked what percentage of Americans had died from the virus, responded they believed that 9% of the population has died from the virus.  Nine percent would calculate to be roughly 30 million Americans.  That number is slightly off.  More than 150,000 may have died thus far.  Therefore, the accurate percent of deaths is one half of one percent.  It is sad that any have died.  We mourn for those who have, but we must keep things in perspective.

On average, 8,000 fellow Americans die daily.  Reports are showing fewer than 925 are dying from COVID-19 or “related ailments”.  Because some states report these deaths differently from others, it is difficult to know how many are truly COVID-19 and how many are the “related ailments.”  For 2017 and 2018, we saw about 330 deaths from influenza and about 135 from pneumonia each day.  If these are considered “related ailments,” it should be made clear to the public.  Additionally, some deaths are being associated with the virus when, in fact, an individual died from something else but had the virus in his body.  An example of this is the person that died from a fall but had been infected by the virus.

At the current rate, COVID-19 can be expected to be the cause of death of about 330,000 Americans this year.  That would make it the third highest cause of death.  However, a distant third, by about half behind heart disease and cancer.

Virginia Facts

Our population in Virginia is roughly 8,600,000.  Ninety thousand people or about 1% of our fellow citizens have contracted the virus.  Of those who have been infected, 2,100 have died.  That is about 2% of those that have gotten COVID-19.  Put another way, 0.00024 Virginians have lost their lives to this horrible disease.

Best and Worst In Our Region

To bring the issue closer to home, these are the worst and best numbers that we have for our region.  Using the figures from Mecklenburg County, which has the worst figures in the 15th District, to give you a perspective as to how our region has been affected.  Mecklenburg was the first county to see early deaths.  Overall, Mecklenburg’s rate of infection mirrors that of Virginia.  One percent have been identified to be infected, however, the county death rate exceeds the state’s rate by five times.  Ten percent who have been infected have died.  Breaking those deaths down, however, at least two thirds occurred at nursing homes.

In neighboring Charlotte and Halifax counties, fewer than one half of 1% have been infected.  Deaths have been zero in Charlotte, and one each in Brunswick, Halifax, and Lunenburg while Campbell, Pittsylvania, and Prince George have only recorded two each.  Rating much of our region as very safe. Far safer than most of Virginia.

Who Is At Risk And Who Is Not?

Overwhelmingly, children seldom get the virus and, if they do, it is generally from their family and their symptoms are usually very mild.  As you have heard over and over again, those most often seriously affected are over 70 with underlying health issues.  This is true globally, nationally, statewide, and locally.

This is a very important reason why we should be opening our schools, particularly for third graders and younger.  We need them to not only be learning but also learning positive routines.  Working parents should not have to find caregivers who may be older or have health issues.

I write this not to criticize anyone, nor encourage anyone to let their guard down, but rather to relieve some of the anxiety that we have from hearing the barrage of news every day that is leading many to believe that doomsday is upon us.  Continue to work and play safely doing the things you should be doing to protect yourself and those around you.