Pandemic Perspective #34   November 14, 2020

Covidiocy by the numbers

            San Diego crossed an important threshold this week; we have passed the magic number of 7 – the number of new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents per day, placing the region in the tier that requires resumption of restrictions that are health-damaging and economically devastating. We are at 8.9 and various public venues will be on lockdown again beginning today. It is certain that some businesses will not survive this new clampdown, and some San Diegans will not, either.  

            It’s not my intention to dismiss the seriousness of the situation that we are in, a rise in cases that will strain healthcare facilities and personnel in several parts of the country, including ours. Influenza is joining the attack and that will certainly make things worse. My concern is that decisions are not being made thoughtfully, fairly or evenly and that such responses are inviting not only resentment but anger and refusal to adhere to the guidelines.

            The media report that hospitals are reaching capacity in some parts of the country but that is certainly not true in San Diego. According to the tracking information provided by the San Diego Union-Tribune (www.sandiegouniontribune.com/tracking-coronavirus-cases-san-diego-county) the county’s available bed capacity is approximately 2,000 while those currently occupied by COVID-19 patients is about 400.

            San Diego County is the second largest in the state both in area and in population. Public health authorities shouldn’t consider it as a single entity when assessing risk of coronavirus infection. For instance, most cases by far have occurred in the South County, where restrictions might have a greater effect than in North County, which has experienced many fewer cases and fewer deaths

            The strictures applied to different businesses and organizations are frankly bizarre. Consider that fitness centers are closed or restricted but casinos are open. My local fitness center clientele is predominantly young, healthy and not obese. The risk of death or serious illness among those who work out there is almost zero. There have been only four COVID-19 deaths in the entire county among those aged 20-29 since the onset of the pandemic.

            How about those casinos? Many if not most of their customers fit the all-American profile: older, overweight or obese, diabetic, smokers, with at least one marker of coronary artery disease. Does the term comorbidity ring a bell?

            Of course, if you are stressed out by fear of the virus or of losing your job you are welcome to stop by your local pot shop. It’s still open.

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