“If your child under the age of 15 has died during the covid pandemic, there is a 99.81% chance the cause of death was not COVID,” writes Zac Bissonnette. “People need to know this.”
Not least because (per the Los Angeles Times) the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself.
And those deaths may not skew heavily toward people in their eighties and nineties. (About a third of COVID deaths have been among people over 85; four-fifths, over 65.)
Not in any way to minimize the tragedy of people dying at any age. I have a wonderful 92-year-old friend who lives in a facility in Texas. I will be terribly sad if he ever dies. But if he ever does, the cause may well not be COVID. Only about 7% of the deaths in the U.S. among people over 85 have been COVID related.
Of the 11,000 people in my Outlook, I know of only 2 who have succumbed to COVID. Both spectacular people, one 72, one 81; the former already on a last-gasp experimental treatment for late-stage cancer, the latter suffering from lung cancer. I hate that they are gone. But to protect such people, should we close all the schools and colleges until there is a vaccine or a cure? How will that help keep my 92-year-old friend safe?
Or would it be more sensible to keep them — and others who are vulnerable — safely separated from potential infection while allowing healthy young people to go back to school and to work?
“We need to be safe and smart, but we also need to be rational,” writes Zac.
“Decision making in a terrified frenzy is never good decision making. Do you remember when President Obama said after one of the school shootings parents shouldn’t be afraid to send their kids to school? It’s a terrible problem, he said, and we’re doing everything we can to stop it against a ton of right-wing resistance. But, he said, parents need to know this is extremely rare. It’s safe to send your kids to school. That’s the sort of steady thinking we need.”
It’s like flying. Scary, especially the first time you do it. But it helps to know that — statistically — you’re actually safer at 37,000 feet than you were in the car to the airport.
The COVID-related Kawasaki-like disease that only strikes kids is also scary. But every time they show the heart-wrenching photo of a child whose life it’s taken, our political leaders and news anchors need to stress two things:
> First, almost no kids die of Kawasaki syndrome. That’s why it’s news when one does.
> Second, there were already thousands of Kawasaki cases in the U.S. every year — thousands! — and no one talked about shutting the schools. Why do these extra few hundred — distressing as they surely are — make the news night after night after night?
It is not heartless to urge smart, sensible measures that could help lessen the tremendous economic destruction we’re watching play out, which has health — and mental health — consequences of its own. (See, e.g., The Coronavirus Mental Health Crisis Hits Home.)
That the current situation was allowed to happen — as Bush ignored warnings of the “tremendous immediate threat” that became 9/11, or as Trump ignored more than a dozen urgent briefings about the pandemic and shut down the preparations Obama had built in the wake of Ebola to equip us to handle a pandemic– is beyond tragic. Beyond infuriating. Beyond criminally negligent. But what now?
The most important thing, if you’re older or have an underlying condition, is to protect yourself. Here’s a good article on how to do it.