CDC has finally published some good numbers describing the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA
“The provisional counts for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) deaths are based on a current flow of mortality data in the National Vital Statistics System. National provisional counts include deaths occurring within the 50 states and the District of Columbia as of the date specified that have been received and coded. It is important to note that it can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded, and tabulated. Therefore, the data shown on this page may be incomplete, and will likely not include all deaths that occurred during a given time period especially for the more recent time periods.” – National Center for Health Statistics
By Israel Zwick, April 29, 2020
About the author: Israel Zwick holds advanced degrees in biology, science education, and school psychology. He recently retired from working as a school psychologist for the NYC Department of Education. Before that he taught biology and chemistry for 15 years. Prior to that, he worked in the microbiology laboratories of the NYC Department of Health.
Over the last six weeks, the following website has published over 100 articles, from various sources, which discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of these articles express opinions which appear to be contrary to prevailing viewpoints and government policies. They can all be summed up with the following three paragraphs:
- Many of the numbers and statistics which are guiding government policy makers are either insufficient, inaccurate, or misinterpreted.
- The draconian measures of global lockdowns and social distancing also have significant medical and social adverse consequences which need to be considered. Some of these consequences, even those unrelated to economic effects, could be more severe and more enduring than those from the pandemic.
- A more targeted approach to combatting the pandemic should be considered, instead of putting large segments of the population into social quarantine. This does not deny, or undermine, the severity of the disease and its contagion.
From both personal and academic interests, I have been following the progress of the pandemic relatively closely, reading about it extensively. One of the best sources is the CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. It is a valuable source of abundant information. However, when CDC started to publish its surveillance data about a month ago, they admitted that it was incomplete and would probably take several more weeks to produce more accurate figures. I am pleased to report that the CDC surveillance figures are much better now, with particularly good surveillance and mortality figures regarding the course of the pandemic in the USA. The following website is the main portal to the CDC statistics.
The mortality figures are presented in great detail on the following website.
There is too much information in these CDC pages to discuss them in a brief article, so I would just like to highlight a few major points. The mortality figures from New York City, New York State, and New Jersey, are extremely significant, especially relative to the rest of the country. It should be noted that Queens County, which was hit especially hard, is home to two large, busy airports – JFK International Airport and La Guardia Airport. New Jersey is home to Newark International Airport, which also serves the entire New York metropolitan area. At the beginning of 2020, when the virus was spreading rapidly by asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic carriers, there were three major national holidays: New Years Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, and Presidents Day. These holidays usually experience above average air travel. They also coincided with the contagion from Milan International Airport which was also busy from several international events. Northern Italy was among the hardest hit areas in Europe.
From the data on the CDC websites, the following information about COVID-19 can be concluded with confidence:
- COVID-19 is different from other common respiratory infections such as colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. These all have early onset symptoms which encourage the patient to rest at home and self-isolate. However, many of the COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic, so the patients continue to maintain contact with the general population, thereby rapidly spreading the contagion.
- There appears to be a higher rate of significant respiratory distress with COVID-19 which would require the patient to obtain respiratory assistance in a hospital setting. This would require either invasive or non-invasive ventilation procedures.
- The combination of comorbid factors among the elderly and medically fragile, and the use of invasive ventilation with an endotracheal tube, have caused significantly higher mortality rates than the other common respiratory infections.
Government policy makers, and their infectious disease consultants, should be carefully analyzing the new CDC data, to develop methods that would mitigate the risks of the contagion, and the disease, as well as the dire consequences of the quarantines and lockdowns.