The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in its “Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report” that the percentage of deaths this season due to pneumonia and influenza is 7.4% — a level which surpasses “the epidemic threshold of 7.3%.”
Interesting, given these coronavirus chaotic times.
Context, after all, is king.
Panic is easy, but context is king.
The CDC, on its webpage, adds several interesting takeaways.
For instance: “Pneumonia and influenza mortality levels have been low, but 155 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported so far this season. This number is higher than recorded at the same time in every season since reporting began in 2004-05, except for the 2009 pandemic,” the CDC reported.
What 2009 pandemic? Oh, that’s the one that saw the emergence of a new virus, the (H1N1)pdm09 virus that was “detected first in the United States and spread quickly across the United States and the world,” leading to the World Health Organization’s April 25 declaration of a public health emergency of international concern; to America’s April 26 declaration of a public health emergency of international concern; to the June report from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus; and to the CDC’s April-October estimate of 14 million to 34 million cases of H1N1 virus — you know, that one. The one that didn’t cause a global shutdown of activities.
The one that didn’t bring America’s economy to a grinding halt.
Anyhow, back to current day death counts.
While eyes are turned on the elderly dying from coronavirus, or suspected coronavirus, or coronavirus-like symptoms that have yet to be confirmed cases of coronavirus — 155 little kids have been killed by flu in America. One-hundred-and fifty-five children. Where’s their love and compassion? Where’s their media gaggle?
Also from the CDC: “CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 39 million flu illnesses, 400,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 deaths from flu.”
Two days ago, The New York Times reported this in a headline: “U.S. Coronavirus Cases Cross 113,000.”
Three days ago, Fox News reported this in a headline: “NYC hospitals ‘overwhelmed’ by coronavirus patients, resident warns.”
But the truth is, we really don’t know — we really don’t know if all those who go to the hospital actually test positive for coronavirus. All we know is that people, concerned over their symptoms — perhaps panicked by what they’ve watched on news and heard on the streets about coronavirus symptoms — have gone to hospitals in droves with worries about the illness. And doctors and nurses and staffers responding to the sheer numbers of patients are feeling overwhelmed.
And politicians responding to the chaos are demanding political solutions — more money, more masks, more hospital beds, more, more, more — to alleviate the pressures from the overwhelming numbers of people who’ve sought medical attention.
But all that chaos is not to be confused with the actual statistical numbers of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
As ProPublica just wrote in a headline: “Coronavirus Hospitalization Numbers Are Spotty. Journalists, Help Us Fill in the Gaps.”
In other words: We just don’t know.
It’s too early to tell. Arriving at factual numbers on coronavirus — especially estimates of the numbers of individuals who could be infected with the virus in the coming hours, coming days, coming weeks and months unless we stay home! stay inside! social distance! — arriving at anything close to fact is impossible at this juncture.
What is known is that washing hands frequently is a best defense.
What is known is that 155 kids have died from the flu this season so far and that the percentage of deaths due to influenza and pneumonia has surged above ‘the epidemic threshold” — and none of that makes the evening news.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.
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