Plan for the Worst but Hope for the Best

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by jgleaso1  3/21/2020 2:22:24 PM -- 

We have an older population that is more at risk. If we do not stay at home, we can soon expect 2500 cases, 400 hospitalizations, 150 needing the ICU, and 80 needing ventilators. In a month, we might expect at least 80 people to die.


Our beloved hospital, Faith Regional Health Services, has a primary service area encompassing nine counties: Antelope, Boone, Holt, Knox, Madison, Pierce, Platte, Stanton, and Wayne1. Altogether, the population of this area encompasses 121,500 people. As of this morning (March 21), 0.006% of the U.S. has tested positive for the coronavirus; this is equivalent to 6 positive tests for every 100,000 people. Epidemiologists seem to agree that the actual number of infected cases is much higher, possibly 10 to 50 times higher2, 3, 4. Conservatively, that could mean that around 100 of our family and neighbors are sick with the virus right now (0.006% times 121,500 times 14). Based on the math from my previous article (https://northeast.edu/News/Article.aspx?ID=3507), that will turn into 550 infected in a week, 2500 in 2 weeks, 12,800 in 3 weeks, and 68,500 infected in a month (note that this is more 50% of our population). This is the consequence of not taking this disease seriously; of not self-isolating and not social distancing.

Here’s some more dire news: our population is older than the general U.S. population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.4% of our population is 65 years old or older, compared to 16% in the U.S. population. We also have 3.1% that are at least 85 years old, where the U.S. has only 2%. What does this mean? It means a higher percentage of hospitalizations, more complications, and worst of all, more deaths. The CDC estimates that up to 70% of all cases in those aged 85 or older result in hospitalization (up to 60% for those between 65 and 85 years old). A staggering 80% of all Covid deaths in the U.S. have been 65 years old or older5. To take the hypothetical that half of our oldest population in the Faith Regional service area gets infected (85 years old or older): that’s 1,900 people. In the worst case scenario, 70% of them will go to the hospital: that’s 1,300 people. And sadly, it is estimated that up to 27% will lose the battle: 515 people.

It is not the point of this article to scare people or to impose a panic. In order to “prepare for the worst but hope for the best”, we must first know what the worst might entail. How do we stop something bad from happening if we don’t know it’s coming?

Posted In -- Research

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