A Serious Question About COVID

Very serious question here.

Given that:

(a) We are all probably going to get Covid anyway (see this link)

(b) The vaccines are so effective that they make a case of Covid (especially omicron) much like just having a cold;

(c) Those who are old enough to get this free vaccine, but have decided not to, are very obstinate in not facing facts, and are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise;

(d) Very young kids (none of whom can be vaccinated yet) who get Covid (particularly Omicron) have exceedingly low rates of hospitalizations and deaths (see this link)

THEN,

Why don’t we who ARE vaccinated just remove all of our masks **NOW** and go about our business as usual?

In fact, why don’t we have Covid parties so we can get it all over with?

Colds aren’t fun, but they seldom kill.

And then the unvaccinated adult fools can simply *go to hell* when they catch it, get seriously sick, and die.

Your thoughts?

A student reports on what it’s like in a Covid-wracked high school

I cut and pasted this from Mercedes Schneider’s blog. As a teacher who retired over a decade ago, I find that the massing of students into the auditorium whose teachers are absent sounds exactly right.

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The following post appeared on Reddit on Wednesday, January 05, 2022, with brief update added on Thursday, January 06, 2022. Although the piece is written by a high school student in New York City and portrays attending school in NYC in the throes of omicron COVID, I can relate to much about this student’s experiences and perspective even as I am teaching in-person in a Louisiana high school. (We don’t have the testing, but we do have the herding of classes into larger spaces such as the gym, auditorium, and cafeteria.)

(Aside: Even as I am composing this post, NYC mayor, Eric Adams, is on CNN boasting of the abundance of testing available in NYC schools and that “we’ve proved that” having students in school is working.)

I Am a New York City Public High School Student. The Situation is Beyond Control.

I’d like to preface this by stating that remote learning was absolutely detrimental to the mental health of myself, my friends, and my peers at school. Despite this, the present conditions within schools necessitates a temporary return to remote learning; if not because of public health, then because of learning loss.

A story of my day:

– I arrived at school and promptly went to Study Hall. I knew that some of my teachers would be absent because they had announced it on Google Classroom earlier in the day. At our school there is a board in front of the auditorium with the list of teachers and seating sections for students within study hall: today there were 14 absent teachers 1st period. There are 11 seatable sections within the auditorium … THREE CLASSES sat on the stage. Study hall has become a super spreader event — I’ll get to this in a moment.

– Second period I had another absent teacher. More of the same from 1st period. It was around this time that 25% of kids, including myself, realized that there were no rules being enforced outside of attendance at the start of the period, and that cutting class was ridiculously easy. We left — there was functionally no learning occurring within study hall, and health conditions were safer outside of the auditorium. It was well beyond max capacity.

– Third period I had a normal class period. Hooray! First thing the teacher did was pass out COVID tests because we had all been close contacts to a COVID-positive student in our class. 4 more teachers would pass out COVID tests throughout the day, which were to be taken at home. The school started running low on tests, and rules had to be refined to ration.

– “To be taken at home.” Ya … students don’t listen. 90% of the bathrooms were full of students swabbing their noses and taking their tests. I had one kid ask me — with his mask down, by the way — whether a “faint line was positive,” proceeding to show me his positive COVID test. I told him to go the nurse. One student tested positive IN THE AUDITORIUM, and a few students started screaming and ran away from him. There was now a lack of available seats given there was a COVID-positive student within the middle of the auditorium. They’re now planning on having teachers give up their free periods to act as substitute teachers because the auditorium is simply not safe enough.

– Classes that I did attend were quiet and empty. Students are staying home because of risk of COVID without testing positive (as they should) and some of my classes had 10+ students absent. Nearly every class has listed myself and others are close contacts.

– I should note that in study hall and with subs we literally learn nothing. I spent about 3 hours sitting around today doing nothing.

– I tested positive for COVID on December the 14th. At the time there were a total of 6 cases. By the end of break this number was up to 36. By January the 3rd (when we returned from break) the numbers were up to 100 (as listed on the school Google Sheet). Today there are 226. This is around 10% of my school. As of Monday, only 30 of whom were reported to the DOE … which just seems like negligence to me.

– 90% of the conversations spoken by students concern COVID. It has completely taken over any function of daily school life.

– One teacher flat out left his class 5 mins into the lesson and didn’t return because he was developing symptoms and didn’t believe it safe to spread to his class.

I’ve been adamantly opposed to remote learning for a while, and thought that it was overall an unmitigated disaster for the learning and mental health of students. At the present time, however, schools cannot teach and function well enough in person. We must go remote.

**I should note that I wrote this on Wednesday.

Edit: I’ve removed the name of my school as it made me uncomfortable sharing such information, but I’ll say that it’s a specialized high school. This is occurring everywhere. I’ll probably reveal it on comments but I’d prefer for it not be in the body of the post.

Edit 2: NOTE — NOT TRYING TO BE DAMAGING TO THE SCHOOL FACULTY AND TEACHER STAFF. THEY ARE DOING THEIR ABSOLUTE BEST WITH THE CARDS THEY’VE BEEN DELT, AND ALL STUDENTS ARE APPRECIATIVE. ITS DIFFICULT FOR EVERYONE AND TEACHERS AND STAFF ARE REMAINING SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE.

Update: 40% of teachers are out today. They can’t even take attendance because it’s impossible. You can sit anywhere in study hall one chair apart.

My hope is that I can be present each day so that my students are not herded into the cafeteria. Finding a sub is now a luxury.

The custodian on our hall was out for the whole week. To assist the remaining custodians, who are pressed with trying to maintain our facilities despite missing custodial staff, this week I have been cleaning my own classroom as well as the girls bathroom on my hall. And since students are supposed to spread out more during lunch, the trash on campus is now also spread to areas where students weren’t allowed to eat pre-pandemic, including to the area behind my classroom. So, I have taken to cleaning that trash, as well. Bringing the situation to the attention of administrators makes no sense since they, too, are streched so thin in trying to keep the school operating amid incredible faculty, staff and student absences.

Wild times.

Vaccines Save Lives. (Duh.)

This graph from today’s NYT shows why.

Was the COVID risk overblown?

I have seen people claim that COVID wasn’t any worse than the flu, and that the toll from the disease was smaller than the number of people killed in traffic accidents each year.

Is that correct? Sources of data on deaths from all kinds of causes are easy to find. I will limit myself to the US.

Let’s see:

Today’s WorldOMeter says the US has had 666,627 deaths since the start of this pandemic, starting almost exactly 18 months ago (mid-March of 2020 to 9/7/2021).

That number of deaths, divided by 18 months, works out to a monthly death toll from COVID of about 37,000 per month.

Flu, however, takes roughly a full year to kill that many.

If we multiply the 37 thousand by 12 months, you get 444,000 killed by COVID in a year.

Flu’s Toll over the Past Decade

The CDC says that up to but not including the pandemic, influenza has inflicted, per year:

between 9 million and 45 million illnesses

between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitalizations

between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths (so by WorldOMeter’s numbers, COVID has been between 6 and 37 times more deadly)

Traffic deaths

For automobiles, the annual death rate had been about 36,000 people killed per year (up until 2019, and not including any pandemic months)

So COVID is more deadly than traffic accidents of all sorts by a factor of about 12 to one if we use WorldOMeter’s data.

Covid’s Toll

Now let’s compare those figures with the ones from COVID. I think you will see that COVID has been in fact much more dangerous.

Over the past 18 months, the CDC (as opposed to WorldOMeter) says we have had:

120.2 Million Estimated Total Infections (this includes both those who did NOT have any symptoms, as well as those who DID; this can’t really be compared to the figures for the flu)

101.8 Million Estimated Symptomatic Illnesses (since this is more than a year, to be fair, we should adjust by a factor equal to the ratio of 12 months to 18 months, or 2/3. Doing so, I get about 67 million symptomatic COVID infections per year, which is between 2 to 6 times larger than for the flu!)

6.2 Million Estimated Hospitalizations (adjusting as before, this is like 4 million hospitalizations per year, which is between 5 and 29 times worse than the flu)

767,000 Estimated Total Deaths (this is like 511,000 deaths per year – between 8 and 43 times worse than the flu!)

So, those arguments are full of nonsense, to put it politely.

The risk was NOT overblown.

I wish everybody in the US and abroad was permitted to take the vaccine, and did so!

I want this to be over.

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My sources were:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html regarding influenza

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/burden.html for COVID-19

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/yearly-snapshot for automobiles

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/#graph-deaths-daily for WorldOMeter’s estimates

How the US States and Territories Compare on Covid Death Rates

I haven’t seen this sort of simple analysis done anywhere else, so I tallied the total number of reported deaths, and divided this by the population, and moved the decimal point six places so we get the death rates per million. The table below shows the results, in order from highest to lowest fatalities per million inhabitants.

The US is surrendering to COVID

 “The facts suggest that the U.S. is not going to beat the coronavirus,” the Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer write. “Collectively, we slowly seem to be giving up.”

That demoralized attitude is reflected at the top of American politics: It has been more than a month since the Trump administration held a daily coronavirus task force briefing. – reports the Washington Post. 

North and South America now have by far the most cases and the most deaths, as these histograms that I lifted from the European CDC make clear. 

All that orange? That’s mostly the US and Brazil, both led by ignorant, right-wing, would-be autocrats who have spent most of the past several months ignoring the threat.

Recall that the virus apparently made the leap from animals to humans in China? Well, somehow, it appears that China and most other Asian countries have done a pretty good job of stopping the spread of this deadly disease. The early death toll in Europe was frightening, but has decreased by a LOT. The US, however, has pretty much given up even trying, and now all by itself has over one-quarter of all of the deaths in the entire world, as this graph shows. Those in Africa (so far) and Oceania are minuscule by comparison.

Published in: on June 11, 2020 at 8:46 pm  Comments (3)  
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COVID-19 Numbers in the US do not seem to be growing exponentially

Looking at the past month of CDC-reported infections and deaths from the new corona virus, I conclude that there has been some good news: the total number of infections and deaths are no longer following an exponential growth curve.

The numbers are indeed growing, by either a quadratic (that is, x^2) or a quartic (x^4) curve, which is not good, and there is no sign of numbers decreasing.

BUT it looks as though the physical-social distancing and self-quarantining that I see going on around me is actually having an effect.

Yippee!

Here is my evidence: the actual numbers of infected people are in blue, and the best-fit exponential-growth equation is in red. You can see that they do not match well at all. 

total cases US not looking exponential

If they did match, and if this were in fact exponential growth, we would have just about the entire US population infected by the end of just this month of April – over 300 million! That no longer seems likely. Take a look at the next graph instead, which uses the same data, but polynomial growth:

total cases US looking second power

Just by eyeballing this, you can see that the red dots and blue dots match really, really well. When I extend the graph until the end of April, I get a predicted number of ‘only’ 1.5 million infected. Not good, but a whole lot better than the entire US population!

Also, let’s look at total cumulative reported deaths so far. Here are the CDC-reported numbers plotted against a best-fit exponential curve:

deaths do not seem to be exponential

Up until just a few days ago, this graph was conforming pretty well to exponential growth. However, since about April 8, that seems to be no longer the case. If the total numbers of deaths were in fact growing at the same percentage rate each day, which is the definition of exponential growth, then by the end of April we would have 1.5 million DEAD. That’s THIS MONTH. Continued exponential growth would have 1.2 BILLION dead in this country alone by the end of May.

Fortunately, that is of course impossible.

Unfortunately all that means is that the virus would run out of people to infect and kill, and we would get logistic growth (which is the very last graph, at the bottom).

death seem to be 4th power polynomial

This fourth-degree mathematical model seems to me to work much better at describing the numbers of deaths so far, and has a fairly good chance of predicting what may be coming up in the near future. It’s still not a good situation, but it shows to me that the social and physical distancing we are doing is having a positive effect.

But let’s not get complacent: if this model correctly predicts the next month or two, then by the end of April, we would have about 60 thousand dead, and by the end of May we would have 180 thousand dead.

But both of those grim numbers are much, much lower than we would have if we were not doing this self-isolation, and if the numbers continued to grow exponentially.

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FYI, a logistic curve is shown below. Bacteria or fungi growing in a broth will grow exponentially at first, but after a while, they not only run out of fresh broth to eat, but they also start fouling their own environment with their own wastes. WE DO NOT WANT THIS SITUATION TO HAPPEN WITH US, NAMELY, THAT WE ALL GET INFECTED!!!

logistic curve again

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