Astoundingly, despite the U.S. (allegedly) being the richest, most technologically and medically advanced country in the world, we have the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections, and many times over the numbers of deaths due to complications of the coronavirus than the rest of the world.
Currently, as of today, November 29, 2020, according to John Hopkins University & Medical, the death toll in the U.S. is 266,047 with a 2% Fatality-Case rate.
Many Americans still insist the virus is just “a very severe flu-like contagion” or that it is a “hoax.” The numbers alone show that neither are true. Nor is it a national or worldwide political conspiracy as some allege. Even worse is the type of thinking that there is an “acceptable number of deaths to COVID-19” that should be accepted by society to reopen, or that those most susceptible to it should simply choose to separate themselves from the rest of society. It explains how the current national government and many in state governments have chosen to not do what was needed to combat this pandemic effectively.
That kind of thinking should be anathema to most Americans who truly value both life and freedom. Not only should that level of selfishness always be unacceptable, it should be viewed, even in a world admittedly bereft of many formerly cherished societal norms and values, as “immoral,” provided that such things any longer exist or are being taught in our culture.
On the other hand, perhaps writing off the lives of others based on a “Risk vs. Benefit” is not so unusual. In an article in Atlantic Magazine, “A Failure of Empathy Led to 200,000 Deaths. It Has Deep Roots,” it was noted that psychological studies have found that “the lives of the elderly are often undervalued and even dismissed,” in some instances by a few of the elderly themselves. Utilitarianism should not be the basis upon which someone’s life or death is decided.
At some point, when dealing with mass death, the Atlantic article noted that “victims are no longer individuals but statistics.” This observation is easily seen in how both the national, state, and local health authorities post COVID-19 numbers daily, and yet still thinks it’s the “numbers” that will be persuasive.
Daily numbers fail on the most fundamental level to impress on the public the seriousness of the pandemic and its effects on real people and families. Many people have had to die alone, away from the comfort of their loved ones. Making matters worse, the loss of a loved one cannot even be properly grieved. Where are their stories? What are the feelings of grief and loss by those left behind? Grief is both personal and private for everyone, but it is also usually a publicly shared experience that brings together family and community to acknowledge that someone’s “life mattered.” Not being able to do so, devalues life.
This pandemic may prove that the combination of Americans’ self-indulgence and willingness to believe in the most fantastical conspiracies, rumors and lies, while insisting that their personal and Constitutional freedoms extend past and outweigh the rights of everyone around them despite risks of severe illness, even death, to others, is not acceptable; it’s immoral and irresponsible in a civilized society. The fact is, others have every much the same right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” as do those abusing their “rights” at others’ expense. Human rights and civil rights end where their practice or abuse harms those of others entitled to the same rights.
Covid-19, like any virus, can mutate…and it already has. One such mutation was thought to be responsible for the incredible increase in the infection rates. What if it continues to mutate and becomes even more infectious or deadly? What if something else comes along, something far more deadly and infectious, and we fail to learn valuable lessons from this pandemic?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), following is a list of those medical conditions that are most at risk from the coronavirus and COVID-19:
Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death.
Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Cancer (In 2020, an estimated 1,806,590 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 606,520 people will die from the disease.)
- Chronic kidney disease (15% of US adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease, which is about 37 million people. CKD is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood as well as they should.)
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) (COPD is a leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting 16 million Americans. Millions more don’t know they have it.
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (Coronary heart disease affects about 18.2 million Americans age 20 and older, and it killed nearly 366,000 in 2017. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for most racial and ethnic groups.)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant (39,717 organs — hearts and kidneys, for instance — were transplanted in 2019 in U.S. residents.)
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2) Close 40% of the total population in the U.S. is considered “obese.”
- Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) (Almost 10% of the population is considered “severely obese.” )
- Pregnancy (3.4% of population at any one time)
- Sickle cell disease (1 in 12 Blacks and African-Americans are born with the disease.)
- Smoking (In 2019, nearly 14 of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (14.0%) currently* smoked cigarettes. This means an estimated 34.1 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus (It is estimated that 26 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, with 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes in the United States having type 2. An estimated 79 million having prediabetes.
This is not an exhaustive list.
Many other medical conditions are also likely as well to result in severe COVID-19 symptoms, conditions, and even death. Here is the list (again, not an exhaustive listing) of potential medical conditions that are thought to increase risk, pending further studies):
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Liver disease
- Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2)
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
“The truth is out there.” But you must be willing to look for it and accept facts from credible sources, of which there are many. The real questions facing the country is: Who and how many are you willing to let die from COVID-19? What is your idea of an “acceptable” number of deaths? And are you potentially one of them?