UPDATE: COVID-19: Social distancing, flattening the curve and ‘we need to do better’

Update April 1, 2020

Embedded in this story is the link to the source of this information. It is updated daily as updating figures are included. Sadly, all the good news from March 31 was wiped away with the statistics from the Georgia Department of Public Health yesterday. Georgia lost 23 people in 24 hours and had 1,085 more active cases reported and 112 more people hospitalized. It is clear we need to do better. You can keep up with it by taping on this link each day and turning to Georgia for the update.

Initial story

So we’re a little more than two weeks in on this whole social distancing thing and it looks like we’re now just a third of the way through – that we know of at this time anyway. How, and when, is it all going to end? We’ve heard it all, “this is over-hyped; we should have jumped on it sooner; it’s just a bad cold; flu kills more people every year; look what it’s doing to the economy; do you value money over people”.. and so on and so on.

So what is all the hype about? According to doctors and scientists all over the world, it is a big deal. That is why globally we’re social distancing. They’re also locked in down under in Australia, across the pond in the UK, here in the US and in most countries in between.

Firstly, according to information that comes from the Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases map developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, flu does kill more people globally as well as in the US each year – between 291,000 to 646,000 worldwide and 12,000 to 61,000 and in the US each year. And COVID-19? Well so far it has killed about 38,714 worldwide and 3,170 in the US as of March 31, 2020.

So what’s the big deal then? According to Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the big deal is the potential. COVID-19 has the potential to do so much more.

“The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. Since this disease is caused by a new virus, people do not have immunity to it, and a vaccine may be many months away. Doctors and scientists are working on estimating the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be higher than that of most strains of the flu,” is noted in Johns Hopkins’s writings on the subject. And that could, and is already, putting a strain on medical resources throughout the world, as is evidenced in Europe, especially Italy, and now New York.

So where’s the good news the headline promised? Well, that is in the whole social distancing and flattening the curve that also was mentioned.

We have access to the information by Christopher J.L. Murray, whose bio notes he is Professor, IHME Director, Chair, Department of Health Metrics Sciences. “Christopher J.L. Murray, MD, DPhil, is the Chair and Professor of Health Metrics Sciences and Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. His career has focused on improving health for everyone worldwide by improving health evidence.”

This study is the first set of predicted health service utilization and deaths due to COVID-19 by day for the next 4 months for each state in the US. It is the one being used by the scientists, the president, the governors and everybody else trying to figure out what to do. The purpose of the study is to measure deaths as well as bed, ICU and ventilator use and needs going forward. It is adjusted daily as the new figures come in.

Below you will see two sets of graphs. These are the projections for Georgia, updated daily. The first three were from today, March 31, 2020, and the next three were from yesterday, March 30, 2020.

And here is where that good news comes in. If you were doing your bit and practicing social distancing, you helped flatten the curve, just a little, and contributed to saving 129 lives here in Georgia just today. You also were instrumental in improving the resource situation for our medical facilities. Yesterday, if we had stayed on the projected trajectory, by April 22 when this disease was expected to peak at 84 deaths a day in Georgia, we would have been short of 594 hospital beds, 755 ICU beds, and 1075 ventilators. We also would have lost 2,777 Georgians to COVID-19 by Aug. 1.

Today, just one day later, we’re projected to peak on April 23 at 77 deaths a day and we will have enough regular beds in our hospitals. That is an accomplishment that you helped achieve. We will, however, still be short 643 ICU beds and 986 ventilators, so more work is needed. We also would have lost 2,648 Georgians to this disease, 129 less than we were projected to lose yesterday.

This is the model that is used for each country and each state in the US and you can keep up with it by taping on this link each day and turning to Georgia to see how many lives you helped save each day, how much you helped eased the situation for our medical facilities and just how you helped to flatten the curve.

March 31, 2o2o

GEORGIA

March 30, 2020

 

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