Here We Go

Months ago I predicted a significant uptick in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths just about in time for Halloween and Election Day. It looks like my prediction is about to come true. Let’s explore.

President Trump declares that he is cured of the coronavirus (questionable), not contagious (also questionable), immune (certainly a scientific unknown) and that it is nothing to fear since it is going away (an outright lie by any measure unless you are a total fool – that may excuse Trump).

Almost daily I have been monitoring what I feel is a pretty good leading indicator. It is the 14 day rolling average of reported new cases. On October 18th 47,601 new cases were officially recognized which is an increase of 30% over the preceding 14 day period. In simple terms the number of new cases is rising, has been rising for two weeks and is rising at a significant rate.

Here are three simple realities. You have to contract any disease before it can kill you. (Trump supporters seem to only look at fatalities – I guess getting seriously ill with unknown last effects is just fine.) If we have more cases we will eventually have more deaths. If we have more reported cases those infected will have infected others prior to detection. A lot of this is simply a numbers game.

While medical science has learned much about this disease during the last few months we still do not have either a sure fire cure or uniform treatment. There is no vaccine and the most optimistic yet somewhat realistic projection of a vaccine is mid-November. That is with emergency FDA approval; in plain English a rush job cutting some corners.

Assuming we have a vaccine developed and “approved” we are still dealing with manufacturing a sufficient supply and getting people vaccinated. Two huge challenges! Think of the logistics involved in accomplishing those tasks.

We have a population of over 320 million people in America alone. (And under Trump we are misguidedly going it alone.) If it’s a two dose vaccine (which one of the most promising ones is) that is over 640 million doses.

Then we have to convince the majority of the population to take the vaccine. There is and has long been a relatively small anti-vaxxer population which I will discount for the purposes of today’s article. More concerning is the significant number of people (around half of the population, including me) that, while not anti-vaxxers, simply doesn’t trust a COVID-19 vaccine that the Trump administration is rushing to market. On the assumption that the vaccine is effective with negligible side effects (no small assumption) if we are only successful in vaccinating a small portion of the population the vaccine will not be a solution.

To me Halloween is a kid’s holiday and younger children at that. I hate to have the joy of trick or treating taken away from them. For younger adults watching their kids dress up and go out is also a joy. For us aging baby boomers sitting home and handing out candy or going out to watch the costumed grandkids is special. In most case the prudent move is going to be not allowing your young children to go out trick or treating. If you decide to hand out treats you will want to do so in a safe and socially distant fashion protecting you and your visitors.

As to voting this is why I have been among the army of people advising that you vote early if you can in your state. If your only option is to vote in person on Election Day then do so in as safe a manner as possible.

I won’t get into Thanksgiving just yet but let me put it this way: unless all at your table have been practicing responsible behavior don’t get that big turkey this year.

The next few months will be the worst we have seen to date. No matter the outcome of the election Trump is still president until noon on January 20th. He has turned in the worst performance of any major world leader with respect to the pandemic to date and there is absolutely no reason to expect it to improve in the near future.

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