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The following is not to discourage anyone from taking all reasonable precautions to avoid contracting or spreading coronavirus (COVID-19), or any other communicable disease, but to add essential perspective.
The 1918 Spanish Flu claimed 50 million lives, the 1968 Hong Kong Flu took 1 million lives, the 1973 London flu killed 2,000 in the U.S., and the 2017-18 “regular” flu cost 80,000 lives in the U.S. As of March 16, 2020, the coronavirus has taken 6,664 worldwide.
The media, the government and the people have become obsessed with what, formerly, would have been accepted as an average virus outbreak. Fear is feeding on itself. Every time someone dies anywhere, it’s shouted out. People are afraid of lawsuits and disease spread, so cancel events. The closures, the social distancing, the stockpiling, the threats, the incessant rhetoric, all add to an atmosphere of panic and doom.
However, there is absolutely nothing in the math to suggest this is any worse than many previous disease outbreaks.
Currently 3,602 people are infected with COVID-19 in the U.S. That is 0.0011 percent of the 327 million population. If one percent die, that means thus far, the odds of dying from coronavirus is 0.000011 percent.
Another set of calculations based on actual number of deaths in the US: 65 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19. This will rise until the virus retreats, as they always do. For perspective, each year in the U.S. approximately 647,000 die of heart disease, 609,000 die from cancer, and 40,000 die in car crashes. Even if the COVID-19 death toll rises 100 times to 6,500, you will still be about six times more likely to die in a car crash or the seasonal flu and approximately 90 times more likely to die of heart disease or cancer.
In my opinion, the negative health and economic impacts of these extreme overreactions will likely be far worse than anything COVID-19 could inflict.