Good news! The projections on which federal and state governments have relied to predict COVID-19 deaths have been wrong and drastically so. That is good news, right? It seems some take great offense anytime anyone offers analysis or data showing the coronavirus pandemic may not be as deadly as we were originally told.
“The final death toll currently looks more like 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000 that we previously estimated,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force said on Thursday.
Just a week ago, Fauci warned the COVID-19 U.S. death toll could reach as high as 240,000. That’s four times as high as he’s now predicting. Fauci based his prediction on models produced by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The federal coronavirus task force has consistently relied on the ever-changing models produced by IHME. But IHME predictions have proved unreliable and imprecise.
IHME officials have consistently been forced to downgrade dire predictions of the impact of COVID-19 when it comes to the potential number of deaths and the need for ventilators and ICU beds. In other words, it’s never been as bad as they said it would be.
In defense of the IHME, the amount of data the researchers obtain increases each day and that could be why their projections change so often. The Communist government of China withheld crucial information or intentionally misled the world about the impacts of the coronavirus when COVID-19 first broke out in Wuhan. We now know much more about how the virus spreads than we did back then.
Some may argue the projections of death tolls lowered because so many Americans are social distancing. But IHME had compliant social distancing built into their models. IHME researchers claimed without social distancing, as many as 2 million Americans would die from COVID-19.
So, what now? Continuing to do what we’re doing when it comes to social distancing and avoiding crowds makes sense. More than 700 Louisianans have died, at least in part, as a result of the coronavirus. This has been a rough week for us. We lost 35 people on Monday, 70 on Tuesday, 70 on Wednesday, and 50 on Thursday. These deaths are attributed, at least in part, to COVID-19.
The good news is the number of Louisianans on ventilators has declined consistently and significantly in recent days. We peaked on April 4, with 571 on ventilators. As of April 9, we’re now down to 473 requiring ventilators. According to the Louisiana Health Department, the state has 1,151 ventilators still available for use as of Thursday. Hopefully that potential ventilator shortage we were warned over and over about in Louisiana never materializes.
Those in charge will make mistakes. They won’t always get it right. That’s OK. There’s just so much about this virus we don’t yet know. That’s why they call it the novel coronavirus. The challenge as we move forward for politicians and the media is to focus on being as accurate as possible when it comes to the potential impact of COVID-19. No fearmongering, hype, or exaggeration. Consider the stress we’re all under, especially the elderly. Stress kills too.
Hopefully, Louisiana has begun the process of flattening the curve. This week, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the state’s stay-at-home order will continue until April 30. Seems reasonable, since so many in our state are still dying, at least in part, as a result of the coronavirus.
The encouraging part of all this is to some extent we can control how bad things get when it comes to the impact of COVID-19. The more we wash our hands, avoid touching our face, maintain social distancing and stay away from large crowds, the sooner this will all be over and we can return to life as it used to be.
Except for a stubborn, attention-seeking, dangerous and now infamous pastor, we’re all doing a pretty good job of making the much-needed sacrifices to contain COVID-19. Let’s keep it up. The more we make the right choices, the sooner this will all be over.
Email Dan Fagan at Faganshow@gmail.com.