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Home Column Six Degrees of Separation, Fear, Common Sense and Novel Coronavirus

Six Degrees of Separation, Fear, Common Sense and Novel Coronavirus

Six Degrees of Separation Fear, Common Sense and Novel Coronavirus

A commentary and interpretation of actual facts and statistics.

Cutting to the Chase:

I’m outlining below a number of items which really concern me. But the crux of what I’m saying is this: There are some cocky people out there who either feel omnipotent, don’t care or are just plain careless. People ignoring the possibility that they might already be a carrier of Coronavirus. Leaders’ actions, or lack thereof aren’t helping matters. NYC’s situation is expected to get much worse. With the coming warmer weather, folks will be heading out more.
With that in mind, we may ultimately reach the point where each person will be directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19. We’ll arrive at a time when everyone will know someone affected, suffered mildly through the symptoms, someone who’s lost their life &/or a family ruined. At that time, it’ll finally hit home and more people will hasten the warnings and believe in the devastating effect of this pandemic; and behave accordingly.

Now on to the long version:

Our city of New York with its population of 8.6 million is the epicenter of America’s COVID-19 pandemic. Our Mayor’s been critiqued over his leadership or lack thereof at times. I’ve hope for the fella. He’s my kind of doomsayer with his predictions of where our city would be. He was right when he predicted a thousand cases and right again when he followed up with a prediction of 10,000. Yet, it took Governor Cuomo’s postponing of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and closure of our schools to take care of those concerns. It was the Governor who almost immediately stepped in to order our playgrounds closed right after de Blasio had 10 of them shut down; in contradiction to the Mayor’s belief that New Yorkers were behaving accordingly.

The Mayor merely dithered and hesitated and refused to act swiftly and sternly.

Then, when it came time to advise New Yorkers to wear facial coverings it took him way too long. The idea that asymptomatic individuals infected with Coronavirus were capable of transmitting the disease should’ve been a foregone conclusion. At least, I thought it was. Why would you ask someone who’s been in contact with an infected person to self quarantine?

Now, I don’t want to lay blame on the wrong person here but nearly every time Mr. de Blasio is asked about a health related concern (as it pertains to the virus) he refers to Dr. Oxiris Barbot (head of the Department Health) who in turn says that which she believes to be the truth based upon actual studies. One example, which paints a broad picture representing most of her responses, has her responding to a question which clearly went by the presumption that someone without symptoms could pass on the virus:

Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: “And so while it may be theoretically possible for someone who is asymptomatic to transmit the virus, there really is no indication that the asymptomatic people are responsible for this explosion worldwide.”

Catch that mention of the word ‘theoretical’? That quote comes from a briefing on March 15. To his credit, the mayor on March 20 seems to insinuate that asymptomatic folks can be a source of transmission.

Mayor de Blasio: “You know, all along I’ve said there’s a place in a time for using masks and as Commissioner Shea said, the time to use a mask is when someone is symptomatic, when they’re coughing, when they’re sneezing, and it’s to ensure that that individual doesn’t contaminate other folks. It gives people who are asymptomatic a false sense of security that if they wear this mask, they don’t have to wash their hands, they don’t have to cover their mouths and their noses when they cough or their sneeze. And I’ve also given the example of, you know, seeing New Yorkers on the corner who have a mass when in reality the mask is under their chin and they’re talking and they’re not really following those precautions. And so, the important thing is having a layered approach and knowing what the layers are in order to provide the maximal security.”

With his statement he continues to stand by the notion that anyone without symptoms shouldn’t wear masks. It wasn’t until a day after a released report by the CDC indicating that the asymptomatic were indeed big enough contributors to the overall problem that the Mayor advised New Yorkers to wear some sort of face covering.

It’s amazing how the slightest possibility of transmission is ignored. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that any sort of covering is better than none. At least the barriers on one’s face will remind a person not to touch it. As well, it’ll put forth the idea that we should all proceed under the presumption of being infected. With that, we’re less likely to spray our bodily fluids from our opened mouths. You’d think that to be a matter of common sense; but that got flung out the window.

As for the dangers of exercise?

The Mayor as well as the Governor himself have suggested that if you need exercise then it’s okay for you to go out and get some. Just be sure to make it short and sweet and to keep your distance.

The Governor today, April 5:

“Positive intervention for cabin fever, I am going to take up running again. I used to run in the normal days before this job. But I am going to start running again. My daughter Cara, we will run as a family and go out there. Cara has a head start. She is out there doing five miles every day. She thinks she can beat me. Give me a couple of weeks and I will be right there, right there. Fast like lightning. We are going to do it. We will make the dog come. The dog is also experiencing cabin fever. He’s a little disrupted. The order of the pack has changed. Different people, he does not know where he fits. He has anxiety. He is going to run. Think of ways to deal with it. I don’t have any great answer.”

The Mayor today, April 5

“I think what – everyone who needs some exercise should get the exercise for the amount of time they need and then get back to home or work if they’re doing essential work. That’s what I do. And I was using a scarf as a face mask and following the exact instruction – face covering, careful that I use the right phrase, face covering.”

Now, letting people know that they can get some exercise outdoors is all well and good. But are these people aware of how many are out there running sans mask or face cover; and they’re out there enmass. On bicycles and in sneakers, jogging close enough to each other so that if one sneezes, the next one in line will surely catch wind of those droplets. Has there been a study done on that little nugget? Or is it, once again, a matter of common sense?

My aim is not to beat up on our local leaders, but rather to show that which helps to instill a sense of false security amongst our New York population. There are still people out there not behaving.

Maybe I need to exercise my own bit of common sense when looking at the situation and what the authorities are dealing with. Surely, people need to get out for essential tasks like buying food, getting meds or what-have-you. There aren’t enough officers to keep everyone at home, and with what we have it’s a problem keeping them safe as well. It’s been repeated ad nauseam how this a team effort. We ALL need to do our part in slowing down the spread of the virus, but not everyone’s been part of the team…’and neither have I.

I’ve done some travels throughout the city off and on from the safety of my car and with the occasional quick stroll on foot. For the most part, I have witnessed plenty individuals adhering to the social distancing rules. I’ve also seen the increase in those wearing facial coverings especially now that the CDC and the Mayor have finally encouraged them to do so.

Problem: There are still those behaving as if there’s nothing wrong. Quite a few times I’ve had one person or a group of people approach my way without the slightest bit of protection on…’and it’s not as if they were trying to keep their distance. They weren’t. There are, as well, all the many joggers and bicyclists I’ve spotted along our greenways (by the FDR and the Hudson River) racing within a distance comfortable enough for germs to spread. Masks of any kind don’t go well with these sorts of exercise…least not for most folk.

On a related note, I’ve been to a number of press briefings covering the Mayor. I’ve always shown up with my mask on and I’ve done the best in keeping my distance from the other camera people and reporters. Thing is, I’ve seen some of these people show up without any coverings whatsoever and when photo-ops came along? There they were all atop each other scrambling for those shots. Right in front of the Mayor, his assistants and his crew.

Dreaded Numbers:

I mentioned at the beginning how Mayor de Blasio’s predictions of confirmed cases coming true. He’s also predicted how half of all New Yorkers will contract the disease by the time this is all done.

In an interview with Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos on March 27:

Stephanopoulos: Give us a bit more sense – you say this going to go into May here in New York. The number of increased hospitalizations, about 3,000 yesterday, that was 4,000 the day before. Are we seeing – we know it’s still going up, but are we seeing any kind of flattening at all?

Mayor: George, there’s some – you know, some days we see numbers that make us a little helpful, but I don’t want to give people a false hope and then, you know, they get hit with a ton of bricks and it turns out is not real. The overall projection, we believe over half the people in this city will ultimately be infected. Now again –

Stephanopoulos: Over half?

Mayor: Over half. Thank God, for 80 percent, that will be very little impact, in truth. For about 80 percent, we see this consistently, it’s like having, you know, a cold or flu type dynamic and you get through it in seven to 10 days. And a lot of those people get right back to work – our first responders, our health care workers. But for 20 percent of the people infected, it’s going to be tough. And for some of them, of course it’s going to be fatal. So, when you look at these overall numbers, we’ve got to be honest about it grows before it comes – you know, before it comes down, we’re going to go through a really sharp growth period.

The Mayor has more than once in the past mentioned that belief: That over half of New York will be infected by the time this is all over.

Grimmer Numbers:

When mentioning fatality rate, I’m referring to the numbers of death in correlation to confirmed cases. As of a day ago, the United States had a death rate of 5.4%.
For United States: 2.8%
For New York State: 3.1%
For New York City: 3.7%

Of course, we’ve got to temper our reactions to these stats since they’re based only on confirmed cases. Meaning, we’re not accounting for those who’ve already had the virus and had either recovered or barely had any symptoms to begin with. Plus, there’s the fact that people are advised against getting tested unless they’ve developed worsening symptoms that do not go away after a set number of days.

Going forward, half of New York City amounts to 4.3 million. The very worst case scenario puts us at over 159 thousand casualties. Considering how, according to the CDC, 80% of those affected will suffer through mild symptoms it’s a bit hard to gauge if there was more to the Mayor’s claims. Did he believe that half of the city would end up being confirmed? Follow? If he meant, instead, that half would get it regardless of being hospitalized or simply being confirmed then that paints a much better picture.

Remember, the percentiles we provided above are based upon those actually confirmed.

So, let’s say the Mayor meant half of New York would get it regardless of being tested or not. Then we should figure upon those being hospitalized which comes out to about 20%. That’d come out to a total of over 860,000. Of that, using the fatality rate of 3.7% previously mentioned, the total deaths would amount to 31,820.

Correction in original calculations follows below.

An even better case scenario, in as far as fatalities are concerned, involves instead comparing deaths with hospitalizations. At the time of this writing, last known stats have us at 12,716 hospitalizations out of 60,850 cases. Remember 20% — works out with those numbers. Of that, we’ve 2,254 fatalities. That figures out to 1.7% fatality rate (hospitalizations vs deaths). When you apply 1.7% of the 860,000 mentioned earlier the result would be 14,620 deaths.

I’ve realized an error in my calculations above. When I stated 1.7% it turns out I was being far too optimistic. It’s actually 17%. Another and better way of calculating, based upon numbers seen continuously, would be to simply follow the 20 percentile thinking which figures that 20% of confirmed cases will need hospitalization. That figure has appeared to be very close to that which NYC has been experiencing. From that 20% the fatality rate has come out to about 17% or so.

For example, as of this edit, last published numbers (on the NYC Dept of Health Site) shows 68,776 confirmed cases with 15,333 being hospitalized. That comes out to a 22% hospitalization rate. Not far off from the 20% mentioned. 2,738 of those 15,333 patients have been lost which comes out to a fatality rate of 17.9%. You can then use this mathematical methodology to figure what the results ‘might’ turn out to be.

You know, my spouse’s sister’s husband began suffering through the symptoms of Coronavirus two weeks ago. It’s a family of three in an apartment. They spent those days separated within their own home constantly wearing masks and scared witless. That’s my own few degrees of separation. That’s their own single degree experience. We’re all affected. I didn’t learn of this until today and my spouse is even more worried than ever.

My theory lies around the Mayor’s prediction. With half the city being infected, regardless of whether they’re hospitalized or not, millions will at the very least feel sick and millions more will get scared. My own step-brother-in-law, whom I know well, is doing fine now. However, his illness had a major effect on everyone who knows him.

Six Degrees of Separation will have an effect on everyone in this city. Everyone will be touched in some way or another. There’s no denying that.

Also, there’s no doubt that social distancing works. China and South Korea clearly demonstrated that. God willing, more individuals in our city will come to their senses and take greater responsibility by adhering to the recommendations set forth by our leaders as well as by common sense. Fear can be a good thing. Especially when considering the alternative.

I like to think that this has already crossed the Mayor’s mind and, as I’ve stated in the past, it’s the method to his madness. I really like to think that.

Leaders who make perfect decisions every step of the way are rare and maybe don’t even exist.  I believe Mayor Bill de Blasio is doing his absolute best under the circumstances. I’m praying that everything mentioned on this page isn’t remotely close to the reality we’ll be facing. I’m praying that common sense prevails.

God Bless.

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