The Wuhan coronavirus numbers for June are in. At the end of the month, the number of deaths in the U.S. attributed to the virus was just over 130,000.* Around 23,000 of them occurred in June.
At the beginning of the month, I thought the end-of-the-month total would be around 125,000, with the daily death count averaging around 500 per day during the second half of June. My assessment was based on the experience of major European countries during the same stage of their epidemics.
Unfortunately, deaths from the virus didn’t decline during the month as much as I expected. Instead of dropping to around 500 per day, they remained closer to 700. Only on weekends does the count tend to come in at 500 or fewer.
In a way, it’s surprising that the daily death count decreased at all in June. After all, the daily number of known new infections essentially doubled during the month — from around 23,000 per day to around 45,000.
Part of this increase may be due to increased testing. But I think the increase is also the result of a diminution of social distancing as the economy reopened and BLM protests became widespread. (We don’t know how many new cases the protests caused, but if the number is minimal, the politicians and “experts” who insisted that non-lefty protesters were going to kill grandpa owe us an apology).
What should we expect in terms of the July death count? It depends mainly on the extent to which the spike in reported deaths is due to increased testing; on the extent to which the newly infected are predominantly people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s; and on the extent to which the elderly and others in high risk categories exercise caution.
If the newly infected are mainly younger people, as I think is the case, then very few of the newly infected will die. If people in higher risk categories avoid contact with infected younger people, they won’t die either. But we don’t know (at least I don’t) the extent to which these two “ifs” are, or will continue to be, a reality.
Should the spike in new reported infections lead to widespread or draconian new lockdown measures? Not in my opinion.
The risk of death from this virus to healthy non-elderly people is minimal. And with what we have learned from four months of dealing with the virus, the elderly and others at high risk should know enough to stay safe. The economy shouldn’t be set back just to save those who haven’t learned the lessons of this pandemic and those who choose to ignore them.
People in nursing homes rely on others to keep them safe. By now, administrators should know enough to accomplish this for the most part, as long as idiot politicians like Andrew Cuomo don’t screw up.
For these reasons, we shouldn’t need to return to lockdown mode, except possibly in localities facing extreme conditions. At the same time, we shouldn’t start acting like we don’t need to exercise caution. There’s a good chance that the July numbers will provide a grim reminder that the pandemic is still very much with us.
* As always, I’m using numbers from Worldometer. I recognize that there is controversy over the number of deaths that are attributable to the virus. Some say that deaths are over-counted; others say they are under-counted.