Covid-19 Is Two Separate Pandemics
There seems to be great division in the nation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. To say it is just a matter of differing opinions – possibly politically based – may be too simple an answer. Perhaps different Americans are looking at different pandemics – with behavior being driven by which pandemic they see as it relates to them.
The pandemic we hear about every day in newscasts is the really bad one. It is making a lot of people very sick – and a lot of people are dying. Pandemic-One, if you will, is hitting hardest on the oldest and most vulnerable.
It is really bad – much more than the normal seasonal flu. Because America has so many people who are old and vulnerable – and we congregate them in close-contact facilities, Pandemic-One is driving seniors – and some others – to hospitals and is killing them at a comparatively high rate.
The first thing we need to keep in mind is that approximately 90 percent of the American public have not even contracted Covid-19. And that percentage is not likely to change significantly when Covid-19 is in the rearview mirror. So, the vast majority of Americans were not directly impacted by the pandemic – apart from the shutdown.
Approximately 20 percent of the 10 percent of Americans who have contracted Covid-19 had serious to critical consequences. That comes out to about 2 percent of all Americans. It includes the more than 500,000 Americans who are said to have died from Covid-19. We are leaving any controversy over that count aside for the moment.
Those the medical authorities officially calculated as serious/critical (the government’s official designation) were the victims of what I am calling Pandemic-One. And there are 9,320 of those all across the United States as of this writing. Also in Pandemic-One are those who get very ill, but generally stayed home to recover.
But there is definitely a different pandemic that raged through the country. It involves the 80 percent of the 10 percent Covid-19 afflicted – or about 8 percent of the total population — who came down with what I call Pandemic-Two.
To understand the distinction, we must understand how differently Covid-19 impacted on different people. One of the more unexplained mysteries of this particular virus is that some folks get dreadfully ill and die, while others do not have any manifestations—or very mild ones.
Massive testing has proven that millions of Americans have been walking around with Covid-19 without even knowing it. My son had no symptoms whatsoever. He would not have known he had the virus if he had not gotten tested after coming in contact with someone with the virus.
While Pandemic-One is far worse than the typical seasonal flu – even the bad ones – Pandemic-Two seemed less severe than the seasonal flu. We see that in the death rates. Those with the Pandemic-One virus had a death rate of approximately 3 to 4 percent. They represented 80 percent of the fatalities significantly higher than seasonal flus. Those with the Pandemic-Two had a lower rate of hospitalization and death than the seasonal flu.
It would seem reasonable that the obvious public division over how to handle – and how to respond to – Covid-19 depends on which pandemic you are experiencing.
The medical professionals, the politicians and the media are reporting on Pandemic-One. They are pleading with ALL Americans to take extreme precautions – masks, social distancing and washing hands repeatedly. Government officials imposed Draconian restrictions based on the 2 percent of the population who were suffering serious/critical consequences – those in Pandemic-One.
The lock downs seemed excessive to the 90 percent who would never have Covid-19 and the 8 percent who would have only mild or no symptoms. It was responding only to the 2 percent Pandemic-One folks.
That may explain why so many young folks capriciously ignored the warning – and continued to socialize and congregate in large numbers. That may explain why tens of thousands of Trump supporters were not particularly fearful of attending his rallies. It may explain why folks traveled and dined out as much as the law would allow – and even then some. It may explain all those folks celebrating holidays in traditional manners. And it may explain why so many parents have been fighting to get their kids back into the classroom – since children were the least affected by even Pandemic-Two.
By my analysis, there are a lot of people living in and with Pandemic-One. We should not discount that or treat it lightly. Pandemic-One is serious and deadly. Because of the myopic focus on Pandemic-One in the media, however, there are a lot of people who are living in Pandemic-Two but acting as if they are in Pandemic-One. That is the fearmongering effect.
Personally, I chose to live as if I were in Pandemic-Two.
Certainly, at 78, I am in the high-risk category – and I have my share of those underlying conditions. But based on my own analysis of the numbers, I never felt at great risk. With only a 10 percent chance of getting Covid-19 and an exceedingly small chance of getting a serious case – and an even smaller chance of dying from it – I took reasonable cautions but was never in fear of the virus. I wore a mask only when required to do so to enter a store, etc. I was not a dedicated social distancer. And I did not wash my hands more than usual.
I did get the vaccine, but I made no serious effort to do so. I signed up a bit late and waited. And I was not willing to travel more than 10 minutes from home to get a shot – the pharmaceutical type, that is. BUT … I am not antivax. Humanity has beaten some of the most dreaded diseases – polio, smallpox, etc., etc., etc. – with vaccines. I get vaccines when I go overseas. And now that I am vaccinated, I feel like I am personally 100 percent protected from both Pandemic-One and Pandemic-two.
Some folks think that I am a bit cavalier about it all – and perhaps just plain lucky. Maybe so. Not everyone is in my position – and everyone needs to deal with the virus as they see fit. But if you can understand my analysis of Pandemic-One and Pandemic-Two, maybe we can be more tolerant of each other as we respond to Covid-19 in different ways.
So, there ‘tis.