COVID-19 With Context

In the beginning, it was a frenzy. Who could do the most in the least amount of time? Businesses shut down, March Madness was cancelled, schools closed (with no information on given to students on what their futures held), and all travel halted in a matter of weeks. The country went from go go go to a standstill. It’s been six months, and now its time to ask ourselves: what was it all for?

Throughout the COVID-19 (COVID) pandemic, I have held a variety of opinions. I’ve stayed up to date on information regarding the virus and its destructiveness as it has surfaced. The science has been consistently changing as more information has been published, but as I look around, I see little change to daily life. Before I elaborate, lets start with the facts:

The Beginning:

COVID was introduced to the U.S. in March of 2020. News channels were picking up the coronavirus in China in February. It wasn’t until the second week of March that everything started to close. There were people stuck on cruise ships, with and without the virus, waiting until they were allowed to go home. I was in the middle of Spring Break when my University decided to move online for the remainder of the semester. My boyfriend was across the country in Arizona playing baseball while the country was being shut down. Nobody had any clue how badly the U.S. would get hit with COVID, but the numbers from Italy and China made me as nervous as anyone else.

Cases spiked in the beginning of April, but quarantine quickly flattened that curve. April peaked at around 30,000 cases, and May’s were lowest at 21,000, with a consistent decrease in positive case numbers.

Then June hit.

People got antsy. The data coming out on how best to protect ourselves was all over the place. Everything was necessary but nothing worked. The President even joked about home remedies (Bleach in the bloodstream? Really?). The media was convinced that every move made was incorrect, no matter which “side” you were on. COVID started to become political, and people followed the science their political party published (news media included). Positive cases went from 20,000 to 41,000 in just four weeks (CDC). COVID hit its stride while we lit fireworks and played cornhole on our lawns, because two weeks afterward we hit our peak at almost 75,000 positive tests.

It’s the end of August now, and we are approaching the end of the bell curve with 40,000 positive tests (CDC). People continue with the same rules and regulations as before, citing 183,000 deaths as their reason for continuing isolationist regulations.

Necessary Concessions:

  1. In Iowa 75-80% of people who test positive for COVID are asymptomatic. (TestIowa)
    • I assume the number to be similar in other states
  2. Multiple states (Florida and Colorado especially) have admitted to giving people positive results without being tested. Florida has admitted to making up thousands of positive tests
  3. The tests being used are known to produce both false positives and negatives
  4. Without mass testing there cannot be a truly accurate death rate

About a month ago (July–when cases were reaching their peak) I did some digging into this death toll. It just didn’t add up that a virus which laid dormant in such a large amount of the population could turn around and kill this many people. I went to the National Center for Health Statistics (which works in conjunction with the CDC) to do some research on how this virus was leading to so much death. The NCHS is constantly updating its numbers because they verify their results with death certificates. This provides the most accurate information available on how COVID is killing people. Below is a table from the NCHS reporting on COVID death certificates:

This table includes a key word: involving. “All Deaths Involving COVID-19” gives us the large number. Each column to its right breaks down the circumstances for people who have U07.1 on their death certificates (the code for COVID-19). There is no column in which “COVID-19” is the only cause of death. The CDC writes in its technical notes that “Deaths are coded to U07.1 when coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 are reported as a cause that contributed to death on the death certificate.” The go on to report: “COVID-19 is listed as the underlying cause on the death certificate in 94% of deaths.” That means 94% of the 169,419 deaths above reported COVID-19 as an underlying cause of death. This goes against every narrative I’ve seen in the mass media. That puts an accurate death toll (where COVID is the cause of death) at 10,165.

Read here for underlying condition risk factors:

Looking at death statistics there is another important piece to create context: the epicenter. Governor Andrew Cuomo was the face of the epidemic in the beginning. Thousands of people were dying despite the shutdown. Cuomo made the decision to send those who were old and sick back to nursing homes in order to make room in the hospitals for COVID patients(Business Insider). Gov. Cuomo introduced COVID into nursing homes, the container of the most fragile age demographic. The New York City death toll currently sits at 23,703. 21,612 (91.18%) of those who died of COVID in NYC were over the age of 65. New York City has the highest death toll in the U.S. today.

The CDC website includes old age as a risk factor for COVID-19: “8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults aged 65 years and older.

Another note: New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey make up 18.56% of U.S. deaths, but these states contribute to only 7.4% of the U.S. population. The top seven states contribute 43% of all COVID-19 related deaths; they contribute 38.6% of the U.S. population.

All of this leads me to wonder: what is this all for? If there was mass testing throughout the country, there would be a more accurate case count and death rate. Most of the world has moved past COVID-19, but for some reason the U.S. believes we are in the middle of the fight. I’ve seen little research from other countries being broadcasted. COVID-19 is a new virus. The world should be banding together to share information on how best to flatten the curve, and it seems as though it has, but the U.S. has not looked outside itself for an answer.

The scientific data suggest that COVID-19 weakens the immune system, which allows other illnesses to become more deadly. If this is true, the best way to fight the virus would be to boost your immune system. Why has there been no preventative care? Immunity boosters are common during flu season, so why not with a pandemic? The majority of U.S. COVID-19 deaths are people with a complicated health history. I believe this demographic would be much safer had the country worked on boosting their immune systems rather than wearing face masks. Masks and social distancing are used to take care of symptoms rather than the problem. Millions of healthy individuals being proactive in dealing with symptoms they do not have rather than keeping themselves from getting sick at all.

The most important demographic to take care of is people aged 65+ and those with preexisting health conditions. Most who die a COVID-related death are both. For whatever reason, the government has decided to keep outdated policies in place and the media has continued to push an outdated narrative. These decisions make it difficult for any single person to find the truth. These decisions make it impossible to spread the truth.

What is our next step? That question has been continually answered with a jab into the abyss. Nobody knows the next step. We just keep moving forward, trying to figure out how to live. Step into the light. This flu season could prove disastrous. People have been wearing masks for the many months. The healthy have not been able to continually expose themselves to potential viral and bacterial threats in our ecosystems, leaving us all with weaker immune systems for the coming winter. Our body was designed to keep us healthy: mucus, nose hair, eyelashes, skin, white blood cells– all designed to help your body fight Earth’s microscopic monsters. These guys haven’t exercised in months! We haven’t been training our bodies for this season’s marathon, and Phidippides isn’t going to volunteer for this one.

COVID-19 wipes out the body’s immune system, leaving us vulnerable to attack from viruses we already know and hate. Mono, influenza, the stomach flu, pneumonia and many more illnesses already run rampant during the winter months. People get incredibly sick each year from all kinds of winterized illnesses. Except this flu season, we have an incredibly contagious virus acting as the bouncer for any number of viruses and bacteria to swoop in and shut our club down. And with improper mask use introducing these viruses to our bodies, it’s only a matter of time before the flu becomes the killer in this pandemic.

In order to keep people safe and healthy, we need to worry less about testing positive and more about keeping our immune systems stronger than ever before. Going outside for fresh air and Vitamin D, taking vitamins to boost immunity (C, B6, E, etc.), eating fruits and vegetables, proper mask use in appropriate situations, getting the yearly flu shot, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, minimize stress (as much as you can in a pandemic), and drink more water. Drink more than that. Eradicating COVID-19 doesn’t start by sterilizing our environment (though it helps), it starts by arming ourselves internally.

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