If you haven’t seen today’s new CCP Virus figures for the United States, you really need to take a look. Not only do they show (continuing) stunning declines in new cases and deaths nation-wide, they strongly reenforce my Saturday post arguments that the death toll from keeping the economy mainly closed longer than necessary (whatever your favorite definition) is pretty comparable to the toll being taken by the virus. So from a public health standpoint alone, as I emphasized, there’s at least a respectable argument for the fastest possible (again, insert your favorite definition) re-opening.
To recap, that previous post challenged one argument claiming that the numbers of Americans being lost each day to the CCP Virus (at the point that argument appeared, 2,763), was dwarfing even the daily deaths recorded during America’s major wars. The author, Tim Mullaney, was right – but vastly under-counted fatalities from various forms of economic privation. As I noted, these kinds of deaths are much harder to count and even estimate than virus-related deaths (although the latter pose big methodology problems, too). But any reasonable person would conclude that both kinds of death are substantial, and that the economy versus public health framework dominating the national debate was dangerously simplistic and even stupid.
Of course, a few days have passed since the 2,763 death rate was recorded (on April 15, as it turns out – and in fact, that day’s figure has now been revised down to 2,751 according to this Washington Post count – the source of all the virus deaths data used in this post). And those few days have seen jaw-dropping progress in reducing deaths. Indeed, today, they’re all the way down to 521.
So therefore, if by some miracle, the CCP Virus was wiped out today, and all further deaths prevented, the 42,384 total national fatalities reported during the 53-day period since the first virus victim was recorded on February 29 would come to 800 per day. A horrendous number to be sure. But it’s reasonable to assume that this favorable trend will continue – at least until some unknowably strong second or third waves come. Moreover, the progress has been so impressive that it’s unlikely to be significantly affected by any of the under-counting problems identified by some health data specialists.
If these assumptions are true, then the current daily virus death toll is still way above that of daily military deaths suffered during World War II (240). It’s also way above the latest figures we have for daily American suicides (132). But it’s not that far above the most recent (and so far unchallenged) estimate for daily deaths from poverty (685). And when you combine those two figures, you get 817 daily deaths – above the current daily virus toll.
Still skeptical – largely because not all the suicide deaths are economic-induced? Then check out the best daily suicide attempts number available – 3,836. At least some meaningful share of these surely resulted from economic despair, and the only reasons they didn’t become actual fatalities were either incompetence or some timely intervention or simple luck. They speak volumes about the power and mental health effects of economic despair. And while we’re on the topic of despair, don’t forget opioid overdoses, either. Many of them have been closely linked with economic stress, and the latest numbers show them running at 128 per day.
Finally – and a big shout-out to Facebook friend Clare Goldsberry for pointing this development out: Reports keep coming in that many significant medical problems are going untreated because of the CCP Virus drain on the healthcare system. Here’s just one example.
Do major uncertainties still surround all these numbers? You bet. But they leave two overriding points completely certain: Any economy restart over any time frame is going to kill a substantial number of Americans, and no one has any basis for claiming that the one will save significantly more lives than the other. If you read or listen to anyone coming down emphatically on one side or the other, I’d strongly advise you to turn the page, change the channel, or walk away.