Letter To The Editor: Comments On Richard Skolnik’s Op-Ed Concerning COVID-19 Pandemic

By THOMAS MCLAUGHLIN
Los Alamos

I agree completely with the title (Skolnik: Please Tell It Like It Is – Before It Is Much Too Late, June 30, 2020 Los Alamos Daily Post) (link), that we have not been routinely told, and updated on, the facts, as published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – and they will change as the weeks and months go by.

I also agree with Richard’s statement later in his article: “The words and actions of leaders matter.” What I find lacking in his article are important facts – that do exist. While not a health expert, I have had time to follow the facts as they have been reported by the CDC over the weeks and have found that the picking and choosing of which facts to emphasize while on national TV, by both medical experts such as Dr. Fauci and by the President, have been widely divergent. This benefits no one.

Yes, there are spikes in new cases in many states, particularly southern states that have “opened up” more than other states. However, what should be more important to everyone is the rate of deaths, not the rate of new cases. Of late, I have not seen this death rate reported on in the mainstream media, nor inquired of Dr. Fauci or of the President during news conferences. The CDC publishes this information by state and by deaths per 100,000 people: Link.

Interestingly, NM and AZ both sit at 24 deaths per 100,000. I also note that, along with AZ, FL and TX have been in the news recently due to their large spikes in new cases, but the death rates in FL and TX are 16.7 and 8.6 respectively. The national average is 39 deaths per 100,000. CDC data clearly show that those below age 70 and without other significant health issues are much less likely to become hospitalized and die than older persons and those with significant health issues.

The data also show that the spikes in new cases are largely associated with younger, healthier people. This would indicate that future death rates are unlikely to spike to the extent that the new cases have. The US death rate peaked in April at about 16,000 deaths per week and has been continually falling since then. The nationwide death total attributed to COVID-19 reported by the CDC was 313 for the week ending June 27.

While we should all do our part in preventing the spread of the virus, particularly to those most vulnerable, we also must be presented with the facts concerning the down-side of the “lock-downs”. These, such as increased depression, increased suicides, increased familial abuse, increased rates of deaths from diseases that were not arrested or detected due to reduced medical tests and treatments, loss of income, jobs and businesses, loss of social interaction, particularly among the youth due to school and sports closures, etc., are reported to be significant; but the reported data is unofficial. This down-side data is essential to making informed decisions.

Finally, and I hope that others far above my pay-grade are studying this, we must all realize that the health of the US economy and global peace and security are intimately tied. I have seen no significant discussion of this, but the importance of the health of the US economy, and not just to us here in the USA, cannot be understated.

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