As of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, the ADH was reporting 280 positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. Up from just 16 confirmed cases 10 days prior on the 15th (1). As of 9 p.m. Tuesday March 24, The CDC was reporting that the United States is up to 12,000 new contractions a day, up from 1,100 on the 15th. (2) with each person estimated to infect an average of 2.2-3.28 others. Notably a couple of “Pubmed” writers have speculated that as of March 25, the actual reproductive rate of COVID-19 could be six times that based on a longer incubation rate than initially calculated. (3) In either case this reproduction number (R0) is the key function which makes COVID-19 an epidemic because the virus spreads exponentially.
This exponential curve according to the Washington Post (7) “has some experts worried that there could be as many as 100,000,000 cases in the United States by May.” However, “That is math, not prophecy. The spread can be slowed, public health professionals say, if people practice “social distancing” by avoiding public spaces and generally limiting their movement.” If we do not take measures to slow it down, COVID-19 “will continue to spread exponentially for months.” Regardless of what model proves accurate we have a lot to risk by not following the advice.
Let’s keep perspective. The most severe cases of this virus lead to viral pneumonia. Age of the patient has certainly been demonstrated as a factor in probability of severe complications. However, it is important to note that currently in the United States there are many patients on ventilators in their 30’s and 40’s, and even death has occurred in at least one otherwise healthy 42 year old woman. Likewise, people with pre-existing conditions of respiratory, heart conditions, and auto-immune deficiencies (6). For the rest of us it’s a mostly harmless headache, sore throat, and fatigue. It’s not going to hurt most of us, it just isn’t. But it is still the most significant threat that has faced our nation virus wise. Far more than H1N1/Swine Flu, SARS2003/Coronavirus, Ebola, Zika and the other lesser known. This is why nation’s, states, and organizations are reacting the way they are.
Here’s my opinion. I love social events. I’m missing baseball in a big way, from my sons last season of eligibility in league play to MLB. Surely, we can all appreciate the challenges that coincide with closing schools. However, I’ll agree with cancelling all of it to save the lives we potentially put at risk otherwise and will personally support efforts to reduce close interactions with others at this time. I believe it is worth taking those steps to be responsible. Economies revive, loved ones are gone forever. To wrap it up I just can’t help but think how people must have felt during WWII, it must have seemed like the end of the world, there must have been those who could never imagine a return to normalcy but we have seen how great our nation became after.
- Daily log of totals from Johns Hopkins University – https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
- https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf & Liu Y, Gayle AA, Wilder-Smith A, Rocklöv J. The reproductive number of COVID-19 is higher compared to SARS coronavirus. (2020) Journal of travel medicine. doi:10.1093/jtm/taaa021– Pubmed
- Determined when calculating data from the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2017-2018.htm, and Johns Hopkins https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
- Determined when reviewing R0 of flu and R0 of COVID-19 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6670001/