Given how much COVID-19 is dominating the headlines, you’d think it were a matter of life and death. And of course it is. The coronavirus, spread via respiratory droplets, can be brutally fatal for some. Just what is your risk of death?
“On Thursday, after the World Health Organization held a two-day online meeting of 1,300 scientists from around the world, the agency’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said the consensus for now was that the I.F.R. is about 0.6 percent—which means that the risk of death is less than 1 percent. Although she did not note this, 0.6 percent of the world’s population is 47 million people, and 0.6 percent of the American population is 2 million people. The virus remains a major threat.“
The paper went on to note that the rates in some countries—including America—could in fact be higher than that. “At present, countries have very different case fatality rates, or C.F.R.’s, which measure deaths among patients known to have had Covid-19. In most cases, that number is highest in countries that have had the virus the longest. According to data gathered by The New York Times, China had reported 90,294 cases as of Friday and 4,634 deaths, which is a C.F.R. of 5 percent. The United States was very close to that mark. It has had 2,811,447 cases and 129,403 deaths, about 4.6 percent.”
Coronavirus Cases Spiking
The news comes at a time when coronavirus cases are spiking in many states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida and California, many of which are seeing record-highs for daily cases. Not to mention, a new mutation of COVID-19 was discovered, and it’s believed to be even more infectious than the first. Although the U.S. death toll is remaining relatively steady—which on the surface sounds like encouraging news given the increase in cases—the reality is that more people are getting coronavirus, which means more vulnerable people (like those with underlying conditions, or the elderly) could get it from them. “After months of study, scientists have better clarity on the coronavirus’s lethal potential—which makes recent case surges all the more alarming,” reports National Geographic. “Texas is just one of the states that has experienced a surge in coronavirus cases over recent weeks after relaxing its physical-distancing guidelines. However, while the death toll so far hasn’t risen to match, experts caution that the coronavirus has not lost its deadly kick. For one, the disease takes a while to kill, and humans take even more time to record the pandemic’s fatalities due to administrative red tape. The people who are dying today were likely infected three to four weeks ago.”
“What’s more,” continues Nat Geo, “scientists today have a better sense of how to measure COVID-19’s lethality, and the numbers are alarming. Using a more sophisticated calculation called the infection-fatality rate, paired with the past few months’ worth of data, the latest best estimates show that COVID-19 is around 50 to 100 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, on average.”
How to Stay Healthy
As for yourself, no matter where you live, and especially in Texas, try your best to not catch COVID-19 at all, and do your best not to spread it: wear a well-fitted homemade mask with multiple layers of quilting fabric, or an off-the-shelf cone style mask; practice social distancing; wash your hands frequently; monitor your health; and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.