The only real data we need on the virus is how many new cases are admitted to the hospitals that are due to a very bad reaction to the virus. I say that for several reasons. The number of admissions can overwhelm the system and that can be a problem as in New York City. We don’t know what constitutes a valid reason to get checked into a hospital. And then there are the underlying financial implications.
Talking point #1. What may be most important is how many random tests come back positive. Tests of people reporting symptoms or in known clusters is not at all the same as random tests. You can expect high rates from those tests. And the contact tracing is a good way to see where this puppy is multiplying.
Talking point #2. How many people are on Oahu right now who have the virus? If random tests taken over several weeks come back with a 3% average positive rate then you could conclude that a population of 1 million would likely have 30,000 people who are walking around with the disease at any given moment.
Talking point #3. Is that random number going up? If it is, then the virus is spreading. If it is not, then social distancing and hand-wringing (humor) is working. Look at how many people test positive and do not have symptoms, or symptoms so mild they do not even consider that they might have the virus.
Talking point #4. The real reason this is scary is that the death rate is high compared to regular seasonal flu and admissions to the hospital for real reasons can overwhelm the system.
Talking Point #5. Hospitals operate on budgets. Think of the hospital as a hotel. If the occupancy rate is to low then the overhead overwhelms the hospital and they run a deficit. So they probably try to staff and budget overhead based on what would be historical “occupancy” rate. If the occupancy goes up, more staff is needed to service those patrons. In a hotel, room rate occupancy that goes up is a good thing financially. Does this work for a hospital? I don’t know because that is out of my wheelhouse. Just saying.
This brings me to talking point #6. What constitutes a valid reason to get admitted? How sick do you need to be? Are people getting admitted because others don’t want them at home? Are marginal cases being admitted because it makes financial sense to the hospital to have a revenue bed filled?
My thoughts, and these are just my thoughts, are that we have thousands of folks running around out there with the virus and many don’t even know it. So I plan to wear a mask, social distance, wash my hands, limit my contact with groups, and all those things that are recommended.
I do not think we need to shut down the economy to deal with this. It does make sense to alert people about the risks and what they can do to minimize them. Outdoor activity like hiking, tennis, and golf to name a few are not high risk. Same goes for shopping, where cautions are in place and a lot of personal service businesses like salons and massage, where the people know each other and precautions are being taken. Packing the Stan Sheriff center for volleyball is not likely a good idea.
I personally do not have any desire to get on a packed plane or attend an indoor function packed with people I do not know. Some of that attitude is nonsensical because I consider myself to have good immune system and would likely be a mild to no symptom case if exposed, even though I am 73.
I am waiting for science to catch up or herd immunity to kick in. If we knew that we had the medical ability to keep relatively healthy people from going to the hospital, then it is just about riding out the illness and life goes back to normal- whatever that is going to look like, but that is a whole other conversation.