The United States is not in any wave of the pandemic. It is in a flood that will not recede this year, and might not next year. East Asian and EU countries have controlled the epidemic so that their first, and possibly last, waves have passed, but, with no plan to control the epidemic, this country cannot expect its wave of new infections to pass. Given our perverse national leadership, the best that we can hope and strive for is to limit the numbers of deaths and cases of permanent organ damage caused by the disease. More attention needs to be given to these goals.
On July 8, the number of reported covid-19 deaths in the US exceeded 1000 for the first time in a week, but it may be an artifact of reporting, as it was on July 1. The next week will show whether the nearly tripling of daily numbers of reported cases since June 16 will lead to a commensurate or to any rise in death rates. There is reason to hope that numbers of deaths will not rise. The national case fatality rate has fallen dramatically, as I discussed here.
I have been watching TV news a lot in recent weeks. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, and CBS are making a catastrophic error in focusing in every newscast on surging numbers of cases while ignoring the declining numbers of deaths from covid-19. Meanwhile Fox News continues to tell us not to worry, since the mortality rate is falling. The distorted coverage by the rest of the networks gives Fox and the narcissist in chief a huge propaganda victory by default. If death rates do not rise appreciably in the next week it will be clear that the current spikes in cases have not led to increasing numbers of deaths. Fox News and the groper in chief will crow while the networks will have pie on their faces. Indeed, the groper is likely to claim credit for steady or falling mortality rates, and the sycophants will echo his claim.
Fox commentators attribute the falling case fatality rate to the shift of the age distribution in new cases to mostly young adults. Certainly that is a factor, but many young people are becoming ill enough to be hospitalized, and hospitalization rates are soaring in the most affected states. Probably the most important reason for falling case fatality rates, not affecting hospitalization rates, is improvements in medical treatment for patients who are hospitalized.
I am unable to obtain useful information about the falling case fatality rates from professional literature on sites such as pubmed and google scholar. I hope that someone else can find information that I may have missed. I have heard only two mentions of the improvements in medical treatment on newscasts.
On July 4, Dr. Kavita Patel told Alex Witt on MSNBC that, while the average chance of survival of patients in ICU had been 20%, now it is 80%. Incredibly, Alex Witt did not follow up or request an explanation, and no video of the interview with Dr. Patel has been posted on the MSNBC web site.
The next day, on Face the Nation, Margaret Brennan asked Dr. Scott Gottlieb about the epidemiologist-in-chief's assertion that 99% of cases are totally harmless. Here is part of Dr. Gottlieb's reply: "About 60% of people who get infected become symptomatic. About 10 to 15% of them will develop some form of COVID pneumonia and somewhere around two to 5% might get hospitalized . . .What we're able to do is when people do get hospitalized and get into the ICU, we're able to save more lives with treatments like remdesivir, with steroids now, which has a big impact on mortality, and innovations in care like using blood thinners on patients and not incubating them as aggressively." You can listen to Dr. Gottlieb here.
See breaking news in my first comment, below.
(Article changed on July 9, 2020 at 01:36)
(Article changed on July 9, 2020 at 06:01)
(Article changed on July 9, 2020 at 13:24)