By Joaquin Flores [FRN] – May 21, 2020 – The latest figures from New York and Los Angeles show that Covid-19 has a surprisingly low mortality rate, at least one counter-intuitive when compared to the hue of media coverage and the political response which has shut down most of the U.S economy.
This raises serious questions not only about the logic behind the shut-down of the economy, for which each increase of unemployment by 1% causes 37,000 indirect fatalities nation-wide, but also about the policy of the social media firms on suppression of speech which questions that logic.
In the Covid-19 hotspot of New York City, just 0.9% of the projected infected have succumbed to the illness according to official figures derived from the New York City department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
This assumes the confirmed figure of some 16,000 deaths, and excludes some 4,000 deaths listed as ‘probable’. This explains other news reports showing the total deaths as some 20,0000.
New York Governor that the rate of said Sunday May 10th hospitalizations and the death toll has dropped to the lowest level since mid-March, when the shutdown began and before the state became the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. Cuomo said 207 people died Saturday, down from 226 deaths the day before.
This brings into question the social policies and media tone surrounding the pandemic.
Social distancing measures (etc.) are believed to have lowered the overall infection rate ( the R number or R value), it is therefore questionable if in a city like NYC, the .88% (rounded up to .9%) mortality rate would be nearly the same without such measures in place. This is because only 51,000 sought hospitalization out of 1.8 million infected.
Thus we can loosely project that 3.6 million infections would have produced 102,000 hospitalizations, and 7.2 million infections would have produced 204,000 hospitalizations. But because of the numerous interacting factors, the true epidemiological value of these quick estimates should be considered low. The question nevertheless arises as to whether this number of hospitalizations would have been manageable.
As it stands, NYC had a horrendous hospitalization mortality rate. Of 51,000 hospitalizations, a scandalous 16,000-20,000 have died. This is a shameful 31% to 39% mortality rate of admitted patients.
However, this could be the result of numerous problems facing NYC hospitals ranging from poor training, budget-cuts, bureaucratic and administrative mismanagement (bordering on criminal neglect), and according to at least one whistle-blowing nurse, institutional racism.
But there is another dimension. The figures being used for Covid-19 deaths are those sustained by the CDC and hospital administrations. They have provided guidelines on determining cause of death, and numerous doctors have criticized these as being overly broad, with the effect of inflating many hospital deaths into Covid-19 deaths.
The New York antibody study in a sample of 3,000 people in mid-April showed a population prevalence of COVID-19 to be ~21% (21.4%) in NYC with its population of 8.4 million, projecting an estimated 1.8 million already infected. This was a conservative estimate taking into consideration a multivariate regression analysis using nearly 300% more than a necessary random sample than required to arrive at 98% certainty, 95% of the time.
Additional testing showed that the figure is likely closer to 24%. Conservatively, we have used the lower figure of 21.4% in this write-up.
This 21.4% figure is approximately a 15-fold higher prevalence than confirmed cases in the area at the time.
This is in line with the expectations of USC study in California that reconfirmed in a May 18th press release that %4.65 of Los Angeles County residents (pop 10 mil), or 465,000 were Covid-19 positive. Los Angeles County enjoys greater direct sunlight and significantly less people per square mile.
The political-legal-policy response to the Covid-19 pandemic, given the very low risk of death, raises serious questions relating to constitutional rights, public health, and the effect of a frozen economy on physical and mental health.
Unfortunately, heavy-handed methods by privately owned social media platforms have stifled the necessary public debate which could otherwise lead to a more informed public and the needed robust debate.
* A previous version of this article miscalculated the percentage deceased by critically failing to migrate the decimal point after calculating the figure. We have updated this article to reflect this correction.