Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Not the flu...still

Even though "new numbers show that Gwinnett County has reported close to 4,200 cases of coronavirus in the last two weeks," and the school district (wisely, in my opinion) opted to begin the school year online, children are supposed to begin returning to school on August 26th, which many teachers aren't happy about (especially considering all the failed experiments we've already seen both inside Georgia itself and also in the nation at large—schools shutting down after being open for mere days or weeks (UNC, Notre Dame, as well as many public K–12 schools)).

Because I'm not brave enough to really try disagreeing with anyone on Facebook, I will do my disagreeing here. A friend here said that she thinks high-risk teachers should simply get a note from their doctor verifying that they are high-risk and then they can teach at home, but all other teachers should be required to get back to work at school so children can be where they need to be (never mind people who might be worried not for their own health but for the health of someone else in their household). She ended saying, "out economy, our families, and the well-being of our children cannot thrive when they are kept at home on a computer all day. We didn't shut down during H1N1. Let's keep the perspective real people."

First of all, people can thrive when they are kept at home on a computer all day. Well, like, maybe they require a few other things: food, sunlight, water... And, frankly, I don't think they should be kept in front of the computer all day. But that's why we are homeschooling...because having my children be required to be in front of their computer from 8:00 to 3 or 4:00 every day did, indeed, sound ridiculous. Not that my children don't do computer work. They do. I just don't require them to be at the computer for so many hours a day.

I was enrolled in "virtual school" through middle school and I loved it. 

I'm sitting in front of my computer right now and I'm totally fine. 

Andrew has been teaching online since March and while he's put in a ridiculous number of hours to make his courses work well online, it's totally been worth it. Our motto is that—right now—if something can be done online it should be done online. 

Not everyone agrees with that but it's honestly the safest way to interact right now.

That said, not everything can be done online. We had to ask a neighbour to help us move an organ today. He was more than happy to; we all wore masks and mostly stayed an organ-length away from one another. You can't help someone move an organ virtually.

But a lot of other things can be done virtually and, right now, should be done virtually. 

Of course, for schools to function well, we need to make sure children have access to technology in their homes. When I was doing my virtual schooling my school actually provided the computer for me. They shipped a computer to our house when I enrolled, along with all the textbooks I'd need, and then when I finished up my time at the school I simply had to return the computer. 

We, as a society, have the means to do this if we choose to. 

Second of all, perspective? Perspective?! 

"From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1) virus."

Now, it's true that our confirmed case count for COVID is lower than 60 million (but we don't quite have an actual estimate yet, do we?). In fact, we only have approximately 5.5 million confirmed cases and have only had "a total of 46,986 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalizations," which seems impossibly low considering the 175,074 confirmed deaths (a number much, much higher than even the biggest estimation of deaths attributable to H1N1...for perspective).

If this were H1N1, no one would have died since April 8 (when we hit 17,970 deaths) but instead it's COVID and we've since lost 157,104 more people. And that's all within five months, so that's pretty much a little more intense than H1N1, death-wise. Just to keep the perspective real.

And since I'm on this subject that we're all sick of being a thing, I will reiterate, once again, that this is also not like the regular ordinary flu, either. Here are the 94 flu deaths from the 2019–2020 flu season (week 40 being sometime in September and then counting forward to week 52 (as in the number of weeks in a year) and starting over again with week 1 in January):

As you can see, we've had 3 deaths in the 0–4 age group. On another page you'd find that we had 224 hospitalizations. COVID has 0 deaths and only 53 hospitalizations. So that's great. We've established this doesn't affect small children with as much intensity (but you know what—neither does hand-foot-and-mouth disease or chicken pox but that doesn't mean we don't avoid getting those things).

Those ages 5–17 have had 2 flu deaths and 164 hospitalizations, most of which occurred prior to March 13 when school children were sent home and social distancing measures were put in place. In fact, here's that chart:

This just shows the Metro Atlanta area, but it gives us an idea. Week 11, for reference, was the week of March 8–14 so this graph shows a lovely steep drop off in the spread of the flu right around the time we all started social distancing. So, kids were still in school in week 11, week 12 would have been the first week children were home from school, and then...boom...the flu is gone. So, maybe that was due to social distancing but...it happened similarly in 2019...so perhaps not.

COVID has given us 3 deaths and 207 hospitalizations for that age range (5–17), so pretty comparable to the flu, really (which we have a vaccination for, mind you).

Next up in our flu chart we have ages 18–49 lumped together—those in the prime of their lives, so to speak—with 18 deaths and 760 hospitalizations.

What has COVID given this group of individuals? 317 deaths and 6435 hospitalizations. 

That is looking a whole lot worse  for us now, isn't it? 18 versus 317 deaths. That's a...big difference.

After this point it gets a bit tricky (and laughable, almost) to compare statistics. I can't easily lump together COVID age categories to compare to the flu numbers, so I'll collapse both the flu and COVID cases into one group of those age 50+. For those over the age of 50, the flu caused 71 deaths and 1372 hospitalizations.

COVID has caused 4382 deaths and 15,292 hospitalizations in those over the age of 50.

71 versus 4382. 1372 versus 15,292.

How is this still an argument? I just...you know. COVID. Boy. I dunno.

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