One of the joys of life in Malibu is the opportunity to spend time with friends, neighbors and clients who are very smart, talented, and successful in a variety of fields.
I was having a conversation with one such gentleman about COVID-19 statistics and he explained that he had created a spreadsheet and updated it daily for the seven weeks prior to our conversation. The spreadsheet grew to have a worldwide section, a U.S. subsection with a New York compartment as well as subsections for Italy, Spain, Germany and France. The entries documented newly reported cases, cumulative cases, daily deaths and cumulative deaths for each of the sections.
I expressed admiration for his dedication and he was kind enough to email me a copy. When I hit print I was rewarded with 12 pages of columns and rows of data. I assembled the 12 pages into a single document just over four feet wide and 22 inches tall. As I studied the document, I decided to add a point in time for Los Angeles County so I would have an idea how we are doing in comparison.
First, the good news: Worldwide, the number of deaths per day is declining. The number of new infections in Europe and New York has been declining for two to four weeks. The total number of infections in the U.S. is only four-tenths of a percent of the population. That means 99.6 percent of Americans have not gotten sick enough to seek medical care. LA County numbers have begun to decline.
As I write this on Saturday, May 8, LA County has reported a total of 1,470 deaths out of 31,197 cases, a death rate of 4.7 percent. New York’s is currently 7.6 percent. Italy and France are 13.7 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively. Spain is a little better at 10.2 percent and Germany actually bests us at 4.2 percent. Our country as a whole is 5.8 percent.
What has California done right?
Mostly, we got lucky when the federal government shut down air travel from China. It bought us some time to gear up for what was happening in Italy and Wuhan. When our citizens came back from Asia, they were screened and instructed to self-quarantine. We are also fortunate our homes in California are nearly all low rise, i.e. horizontal, not vertical. Another California advantage is that our weather is much warmer so that we can live with open windows and frequent changes of air.
Los Angeles County has over half of all the deaths in California with about 1,500 out of the statewide total of 2,689. New York has about 25,000 deaths.
What has New York done wrong?
Recent studies have linked nearly all of the New York cases to air travel from Europe. The feds were slow to learn that the Chinese government, which wouldn’t let people leave Wuhan for destinations within China, had continued to let them fly to Europe and other countries. Italy has a lot of Chinese investment in the fashion and manufacturing industries based in Milan and industrial northern Italy. The US was late to halt and/or quarantine all arrivals from Europe. New York’s government further accelerated the disaster by requiring senior care facilities to accept diagnosed COVID-19 cases. This resulted in the virus spreading in those assisted living facilities and is directly responsible for close to 50 percent of the New York deaths.
Frankly, our death rate still scares me. In California, 912,570 people have been tested. That is about 2.28 percent of California’s population of about 40 million. What about the other 97 percent of the population? There have been 2,689 deaths in California at this writing. The deaths are about one out of every 14,875 people in the state so far. Each one is a tragedy for family, friends and coworkers.
The situation is further complicated by the discovery of COVID-19 side effects in some of the very young. A syndrome similar to the extremely rare Kawasaki’s disease has presented in several toddlers in NY (two have perished) and at least one in LA, who were subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19.
Please continue to protect yourselves and those you love by social distancing, wearing a mask and practicing good hygiene. If you have to use elevators or visit public spaces, gloves are a great additional barrier. The pace of infection is slowing and the treatment options available to the healthcare professionals are improving as more is learned about the disease. This is not the time to throw caution to the winds.
Many are hoping and praying for a repeat of the experience with SARS from several years ago when SARS simply died out and disappeared.
Stay well and take five minutes to go to my2020census.gov to fill out the form for your residence. Funding decisions on the state and federal levels are influenced by your participation. Filing will do a lot to keep door to door solicitors from the census away from your home.