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COVID-19 UPDATE: READ THIS FIRST!
Before you read further, ask yourself: “Am I practicing good hygiene and limiting close contact with others, using a good mask and gloves when necessary, and self-quarantining if my health and/or age put me at higher risk?” If the answer is: “Yes, I am doing all those things in spades,” then great job! Buckle up and keep going. We’re not through this yet. But there is light. The end of the tunnel is in sight. If you are disheartened, freaking out, apprehensive, or suffering moments of quiet desperation, I have written this newsletter with you in mind.
Bad news sells
All media outlets feast when bad news abounds. Enter a worldwide pandemic. We see the Johns Hopkins’ map of the continents being consumed by never-shrinking scary red bubbles of virus. Our brains never stop to ask what these bubbles mean. Does the bubble covering all of China means all of China got the virus? (No.) And the overlapping bubbles never shrink because they track only new cases without the denominator, not prevalence (the number of active cases at this moment. We don’t have these data yet, but Iceland is closing in fast — see below.) Our rational minds might know this, but our emotions and survival instincts do not.
We read on Buzzfeed that in Iceland, where they are testing all citizens as fast as they can, 50% of those found to be positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic. As we read our better judgment gets bypassed (e.g., we see snake only later to realize it was the garden hose!) and we are prone to conclude that 50% of asymptomatic people we see (from 6 feet away, of course) are shedding live, active coronavirus. This is not only PATENTLY NOT TRUE, it’s tragic, because it causes us to buy too much chicken and toilet paper, experience apprehension and anxiety, and lose sleep. As we incessantly consume media about the new cases today, our minds churn. Alas! We’ve ignored the fact that we have no denominator (per capita statistics). We’ve got prevalence data (China, South Korea, Hong Kong) but it is not applied. And we don’t hear about the recoveries, the many successes, and the good news that is really there — like the fact that the viral growth rate is stable in the US and not increasing. You see, it’s the bad news that sells. It’s the Koolaid we’ve been reluctantly drinking. In the words of nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow: “What you see is all there is (WYSIATI).”
Iceland – comprehensive data collection
In Iceland, the positive tests are about 1% of those tested. Since they are testing a greater proportion of asymptomatic persons than any other country so far (remember — they are testing EVERYONE regardless) they are capturing an accurate proportion of the population that is COVID-19 positive, but currently asymptomatic. That’s 0.5% of all persons tested so far.
Evidence over hysteria
According to Aaron Ginn in a recently published, then censored, then republished article entitled “Evidence over Hysteria,” 13% of all Americans (tested and not tested) believe they are currently infected with COVID-19 (a mathematical impossibility). Of those tested in the US, believing they are infected, 93% are NOT INFECTED. That means that if you are afraid you have the coronavirus and are able to get the COVID-19 test, there is only a 7% chance that your test will be positive. Again, the point is that 93% of Americans seeking the test are negative for COVID-19.
Should you get tested for COVID-19?
If you have a new cough, shortness of breath, a fever, or the NEW ONSET of loss of a sense of taste or smell, it is reasonable for you to get tested for COVID-19. Call your doctor or follow the local guidelines for drive-through testing. Call first, don’t just show up. Do not overload the system that is in place in your locale.
Stanford University profs weigh in
John Ioannidis, a physician-scientist, expert on meta-science and professor of medicine, epidemiology and population health at Stanford University wrote an article entitled “A fiasco in the making?” questioning the reliability of data we’re using to make decisions of monumental significance, including all-inclusive public lockdowns. And a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, noted earlier this week that our fear-based hysteria — not the virus — has resulted in a shock to our culture and economy that, if sustained, will result in the geo-economic destruction of the US. Not the virus.
Bottom line: aggressive hygiene … and the good use of good data
Quoting from Ginn, “COVID-19 is a significant medical threat that needs to be tackled, both finding a cure and limiting the spread; however, some woudl argue that a country’s authoritarian response to COVID-19 helped stop the spread. Probably not. In South Korea and Taiwan, I can go to the gym and eat at a restaurant…” Curves in these places: flattening. Not clear, but well over the hump by 3/7/2020.
Global health authorities admire countries who have used data, measurement, and the promotion of common sense self-hygiene. Given the cogent analysis of high quality data collected in Iceland, their chief epidemiologist Thjorolfur Gudnason has banned gatherings of more than 20 persons, but has allowed primary school attendance to continue with appropriate cautions, and allowed physiotherapy visits to continue provided that in all cases aggressive hygiene rules are observed. We see this as an appropriate, evidence-based, achievable, and sustainable response for Iceland, for the US, for Colorado, and for our clinic. We’re cautious, extremely vigilant, under strict protocols, and … open for business.
C.A.L.M. – by Max Lucado
Struggling to find calm, and perhaps needing encouragement? You are NOT alone! In a recent report aired on national news Pastor and bestselling author Max Lucado cited the “most underlined verse in the Bible” and provided biblical insight for viewers during this time of increased anxiety and uncertainty. If you’re interested you can watch it HERE. You’ll learn about Pastor Lucado’s steps to achieve “C.A.L.M.”