COVID Update June 22: In a lot of ways, COVID-19 is forcing us to answer the question— what kind of society are we?
Particulatly as the healthy, white & well off find ways to protect themselves will we look out for each other? 1/
The pattern in the US, in all likelihood, will face a pattern of:
-cases going up
-death rates going down
-much more unequal outcomes 2/
As time goes on and the virus spreads, 2 things happen:
-our own behavior adapts to what we know
-scientists adapt to what we learn 3/
Let’s start with the scientists.
Science is attacking 4 major problems right now:
-3 main complications (clotting, oxygen deprivation, immune system over-reaction) 4/
When the virus was in Wuhan, being on a ventilator was a death sentence. 80% of people on ventilators died.
Today that number is lower & getting lower still. With new therapies, that 80% could decline to 20-40%. 5/
In a society where we look out for one another thie scientific & social adaptation be good. But societies where many people largely look out for themselves will have a different outcome. 6/
Scientific progress was made possible by all of our actions in March & April. We stayed home, we distanced. To everyone who did, you saved lives.
Now there is an important question about that behavior. Was it done to protect ourselves or also to protect the people around us? 7/
Let’s say there was a highly infectious disease called DIVOC- 91.
If all people had an equal 10% chance of catching DIVOC & a 20% chance of dying (or 2% overall) if they got it, everyone would be careful. It’s natural. We want to live.
But what DIVOC were different? 8/
What if young, white, healthy people had a 25% chance of catching DIVOC & a 1% chance of dying (.25% overall). And people of color, sicker & older people had a 40% chance of catching it & a 20% chance (8% overall) of dying? 9/
Here is the question— if the transmission rate was very high, do we live in a society where young, white healthy people would be just as cautious as Black & Brown people, older people & sicker people? 10/
To keep it simple, would lower risk people wear a $1 mask to dramatically cut down on transmission knowing they were going to come into contact with higher risk people or their family members even better even if they weren’t worried for themselves? 11/
Or would they say “ let me live my mask free life to the fullest, the high risk people can take care of themselves & isolate.”
Can people working essential jobs perfectly isolate? Should they have to if a month with a mask for everyone is an alternative? 12/
Let’s not pull punches here. In other countries they faced this question & society has rallied. All over Asia, Europe & Oceana, people have worn masks, locked down, sacrificed income & stayed away from bars.
It wasn’t easy & they might have to again but it worked. 13/
It is becoming clearer & clearer that we have a situation much more like the second scenario.
Young people feel immune & many are symptom free
White people have lower mortality
Well off people can isolate
But they can all easily spread COVID-19 to people at higher risk. 14/
We all likely know by now that Black Americans are 2x likely to die of COVID-19 as white people.
But if you’re between 35-44, Black Americans are *9x* more likely to die of COVID-19 as white people. 15/ twitter.com/rheaboydmd/sta…
If you have autism or a developmental disability, you are more likely to get COVID AND if you get it, much more likely to die from it.
Same with high blood pressure, obesity & other illnesses. And age— fatality climbs from 1-20% between 50 & 80. 17/ twitter.com/aslavitt/statu…
The likelihood of catching & the severity of the virus goes up as prolonged exposure & the number of people you are exposed to does.
Running into a grocery store without a mask is a different from working there.18/
But simple things like wearing a mask, not attending large events like casinos & churches, not hanging out in bars protect everyone & cut down on transmission.
The 9 of the 10 cities with the highest growth in transmission are in places with low reported mask use. 19/
What is the matter with us? Why do we need to personally be at risk to care about risk to others? 20/
If I told you there was a force that preyed on the old, the sick & people of color, like my friend @byron_auguste you might refer to it as a Nazi disease. 21/
Where did they teach in Sunday school we can be negligent of others when we feel safe?
Where is pious Vice President Pence? Where are evangelical leaders? 22/
I don’t know Joe Rogan but do people in our country really care what he thinks about them?
While local officials & scientists get death threats for wearing masks? Get asked to falsify data & under test?
What is wrong with us? 23/
As the death rate drops & people feel safer, lower risk people will be even more cavalier about getting back to their lives. 24/
Science is not our missing ingredient in beating this virus. Empathy is.
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