Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Time Will Tell: The Mess and Hopes of Wisconsin and Beyond

I didn’t do a monthly look back on the 14th as I have since we were all back intto school back in September here in Wisconsin. The data spoke for themselves. The increasing numbers of folks knowing friends and loved ones suffering and dying spoke of our realities.


For a great review of where the nation is at, I again refer you to Dr. Tom Frieden and his blog, Covid Epidemiology, where this week he says this will hopefully be his last report as the federal government operations that normally are in charge of this stuff aren’t being muzzled anymore and are posting this information publicly as they should have been since the beginning. It’s bad. Most of the nation is about “six times the rate at which we figured contact tracing would be hard or impossible” to do.


Through 12/21, Milwaukee County has lost 942 to COVID19 while neighboring Waukesha County (with 42% the population) has lost 310. There’s a disparity there just as there is in the populations that need addressing but that’s for another day. One could argue that it’s “only” 0.10% and 0.08% of each county’s respective total population suffering the ultimate penalty. One could say it’s “only” a death rate of 1.2% of all positives in Milwaukee County and 0.9% of all positives in Waukesha County.


But it’s also 1,252 families with new holes at the family tables. Thousands of friends with one less number on their phones. Probably hundreds of workplaces with one less employee, religious organizations with one less congregant, and businesses with one less customer.


It’s also about 112,944 folks who have had to isolate- or who should have. Who had to stop working and interacting with others to not spread the virus, thus affecting everyone they live with. Or should have. If those folks worked, it impacted their employers and probably cost them wages. Or should have. The government isn’t helping much in that regard.


It’s about the approximate 4,870 people of that 112,944 who have been hospitalized and have either slowly recovered or...are still fighting. 4% of all positives in Waukesha end up in hospital care. 5.8% of all the Milwaukee County ones do.


It’s thousands of healthcare workers who have to treat all the positives in their care at nursing homes, care facilities, and at clinics and hospitals as positive cases become critical. Those HCW impacted also have families of their own who are touched by this all: children, spouses, parents…


Looking at today’s totals on world rates of covid, the US has the 5th highest overall positive count in the world from the beginning of this pandemic- behind only Czechia, San Marino, Montenegro, Luxembourg, and Andorra. 55,075 cases for every million people. People are suffering around the world, make no mistake. But the US is showing the world a side of COVID19 in a shameful scale.


The world isn’t partying while the US wallows in some false reality of a fake virus. The fact that the “greatest” country in the world has a huge percent of the population believing things like this and not working together with medicine and science is so depressingly mind-blowing. Watching this unfold has been stomach-turning.


We have so much work ahead of us. Dr. Frieden highlights this, too. This virus needs to be controlled and THEN people need to be reintroduced in widening circles to each other in systematic ways. National and international pandemic plans need to be created to be in place for the next time this happens. (I love how Dr. Frieden put it: “It’s literally now or never to fix public health at local, city, state, national, [and on] global levels.”) Our economy needs to be rebuilt, including collecting taxes and/or donations of investment from our most solvent corporations and individuals to restore the nation’s financial strength. All the other crises the US is facing also need to be addressed in their own ways by thought-leaders within those fields, including racial equity, climate change, green economy, education, and health care.


After this year is done, we can take a look back and see how our overall death rates compared in 2020 to what we have experienced in previous years. Perhaps folks like me will be begging forgiveness at blowing this virus out of proportion. I for one would be glad to do so.


We have to get through this virus first. I eagerly await 2021.


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