Happy election week. It's sad to say, and I hope I'm wrong, but I fear that this year, election "day" could be be transformed into election "week," if not "month."
This election season has been a "one of a kind" for sure, like so much of 2020. As Kermit says, we certainly didn't need another hour of 2020! I hope everyone remembered to turn back their clocks!
With all of the distorted facts we have seen in the election ads this week, I have been most intrigued with the reports of Covid spikes over the last 2 weeks in SC, the US, and the world.
So I started doing some investigating. What I found for starters, is that with regards to SC and the US numbers, Google uses the combination of positive and probable cases when reporting the numbers, so of course, the Google numbers are higher than those reported on the DHEC and CDC websites.
And as I sorted through the numbers, I also focused on those being reported for France and England, as these counties have instituted lockdowns once again. So here are some interesting findings...
In England, the cases to date have affected 1.5% of its population, and in France, that percentage is 2%. In the US, where our shutdowns were not nationally mandated, closer to 3% of the population has contracted Covid.
In South Carolina, where we have been more free to move about, the incidence is actually closer to 3.5%. And if we implement the old rule that for each positive case there are 10
more people who have had Covid, then the numbers of South Carolinians exposed could be 35%.
And what about all of those probable false negative tests? So the numbers exposed to Covid could be even much higher. But what's most interesting, is that the death rate as a percentage of the total population if the UK, France, the US, and SC is pretty much .07% across the board.
Additionally, the US has approximately 10% of its population that suffers from diabetes, one of the biggest risk factors for complications related to Covid, whereas the percentage of diabetics in the UK is more like 7% (according to numbers I found on the web). And before we begin to panic about the rising Covid numbers
being reported at home and abroad, I also came across some other interesting data from the CDC website...
When looking at the Influenza rates for the 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20 flu seasons, each showed that by week 40 (which corresponds to the end of September/1st week of October), influenza rates in the US has started their climb year after year...except for 2020.
I have attached some graphs I found on the CDC website that depicts flu patterns over the last few years.
I have heard theories that the flu rates are expected to be lower this year because of social distancing resulting from Covid precautions. But if we are doing such a good job with social distancing so as to prevent the flu, why are the Covid numbers rising? And I am left to wonder that since there is such overlap in the symptoms of influenza and Covid, and since "probable Covid cases" are getting counted in the Covid narrative, are we simply shifting the reporting of flu cases to Covid?
Why is it that the SC DHEC website has not reported any updates on influenza for the fall of 2020, and under "Reported Influenza Activity," DHEC says "N/A?" N/A as of November 1? Hmmm....I would certainly hope that politics is not playing into this recent reporting. Indeed, hospital and ICU utilization at Roper was slightly higher last week compared to the week prior, but overall, hospital utilization in the low country has remained pretty stable over the last few weeks, and even down a bit.
Could the uptick in Covid numbers actually be influenza cases, being reported as Covid to incite panic? I hate to be cynical, but with all of the craziness over this election, nothing would surprise me these days. Let's not forget it's 2020! And did you see that full moon this weekend? It was perfect for a spooky Halloween!
So what does all of this mean? For starters, please get your flu shot. In South Carolina in 2018, 882 individuals died from the flu. Keep in mind, that this 882 was with the presence of a vaccine, and influenza is more detrimental to children than Covid.
We don't have the 2019 and 2020 influenza numbers, but based on the graphs I alluded to above, I suspect that the influenza death rate will be recorded as much lower than prior years. I also have a feeling that when the dust settles, the deaths from other diseases, especially diabetes, cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions will be much lower as well.
I am not diminishing the seriousness of Covid, or the sadness of every life lost to Covid, but I am simply trying to ascertain the truths about Covid. I am hoping that after the election, politicians can stop using the virus for political reasons, and allow us to focus on determining these truths.
And as for politics, regardless of your affiliations, please vote!
But if you're feeling sick, stay home! I happened to vote last Monday, and was impressed by the safety precautions. In fact, voting was a much safer experience than my last minute trip to Walmart yesterday for Halloween candy. Heck, it felt like Black Friday! Lastly, stay positive!
The negativity and depression people are feeling is real...I see it every day. But the good news is that treatments for Covid are improving and vaccines are on the horizon. In fact. DHEC now has a page dedicated to Covid vaccine information. And the good news, 2021 is around the corner!
I hope everyone has a great week and can survive this election! Stay safe!
Till next week!
Dr. Heidi Williams MD