Friday, July 31, 2020

Seasonal Influenza Death Totals Compared to COVID 19 Deaths as of July 31, 2020.

"The seasonal flu kills people, too." 

Ok, yes it does. People have said it, but they haven't backed up their statement with data.

I'm a science teacher, so I want numbers. I went to the CDC. The data is public.

The following number of estimated deaths OF ALL AGES occurred during these associated years. 

2018-19 34,157 deaths
2017-18 61,099 deaths
2016-17 38,230 deaths
2015-16 22,705 deaths
2014-15 51,376 deaths
2013-14 37,930 deaths
2012-13 42,570 deaths
2011-12 12,447 deaths
2010-11 36,656 deaths

Keeping in mind that there is a seasonal shot for the seasonal flu, and nowhere are there remotely accurate estimates of how many influenza cases are PREVENTED by the flu shot, let's compare the number flu deaths per YEAR (12 months) to the number of COVID 19 deaths thus far recorded (6 months - end of Jan - July 31, 2020) by the CDC. (July, 31, 2020)

So far there are 151,499 deaths due to COVID 19 in the first 6 months of 2020. If we look at the number of deaths for 12 months for each of the years listed above, it would take the sum of last 4 years of flu deaths (2015-2019) to come close to how many COVID 19 has killed already for 2020. 

Total number of flu deaths recorded in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 = 150,191 deaths, still lower than today's COVID 19 total (as of this writing) of 151,499.

If you look at the particularly hard flu years of 2012, 2014 and 2017 and add them together, you get 155,045 flu deaths, which is actually more than today's total COVID 19 deaths. There were 1,216 new COVID deaths recorded since yesterday. If we make a blatantly unscientific assumption that the same number will continue to die every day after today, (I could run an algorithm to extrapolate the data into a best fit curve, but it's summer...) 2020 COVID 19 deaths would reach the same number of deaths as the three highest flu seasons above by August 3, 2020 at approximately 4 pm, CDC time.

So, yes, the flu kills people. Lots of people. There is a flu shot. It does help stem the spread of the seasonal influenza, some. It is not 100% effective. I have had the flu, twice. Once without a shot (age 15) and once with a shot (40 something). Not something I want to repeat. I get a flu shot every year. 

The numbers show that this new coronavirus which causes COVID 19 is a more lethal illness than seasonal influenza. Numbers do not have emotions. Numbers do not choose sides of political or personal arguments. Numbers are what they are, representative data of each person who has lost their battle against a terrible disease.

I do not want to experience COVID 19. I do not want to cough and choke for breath. My mother had asthma, that is what she died from when I was 16. I watched her die. It is a violent way to go.

My age and underlying health conditions would no doubt cause any health care provider great concern as to the outcome of my battle with this disease. They cause ME concern.

So, I will stay where I am. I will cautiously leave my disease free domicile in small trips for necessities and an occasional social distanced, outdoor excursion. I believe that battling COVID 19 is a far greater threat to my freedom to enjoy life than wearing a mask.

Check out the CDC numbers; they speak for themselves.

Aug 3 update:  at 7:35 Pacific Daylight time the CDC reports 155, 204 deaths.

Copyright 2020

Penny Lee Soutar

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Life in the Time of Corona Virus

I didn't worry about catching it at first; I was more worried about being asymptomatic and giving it to someone who was vulnerable. Now that has changed, as I have learned that my age of 58 in combination with my high blood pressure puts me in that category. So I keep my distance.

I started my new job as a long term science sub at Leota Middle School on February 24. I saw students for all of 7 school days before we closed. I won't see them again for the rest of the year.

I've made a couple of masks, the first from a fitted bedsheet and harvested elastic, the second from a small bit of fabric I purchased on sale before I left New York. Lucky for me it was 100% cotton and a much higher thread count than the bedsheet. Yes, I buy cheap sheets.

I wore it once out and then washed it again directly. I don't think I am claustrophobic but can't tolerate tight collars. Not too bad since I only go out about once per week. Being one person alone, it is not hard to stock up, and I did that in anticipation of the stay at home order. I also purchased an Instant Pot before all this and my freezer is now full of soup. It'll last.

So after my experimental cooking endeavors, I have found it useful to be creative every day in some way. While constructing lessons for my classes I get to explore online science simulations and videos, then whirl them into engaging activities for my 7th and 8th graders. I've created videos of my nature walks and melded my ocean photos with a poetry reading of "Sea Fever" by John Mansfield.

I've painted a wooden sign to match my tropical colors of turquoise and bright blue. And I knit every day, just a straight garter stitch wrap in light purples and greens. My biceps tendonitis limits the number of rows I can do, but I still try to get in 5 or 6 a day.

I have done a little bit of unpacking, putting up artwork on the walls, living with it for a while, then moving it on to a new spot. I didn't bring furniture with me, so my apartment is arrayed with a lawn chair, some folding tables, mattress pads and a few crates for the TV to sit on. I'm camping but very comfortable.

And so it is...but for how long?

Penny Lee Soutar

On the Burial of My Older Sister

My sister Jo Ellen, who passed away Feb 29, was laid to rest yesterday in the same grave as her husband. I wrote this poem to express my sorrow, but it keeps leaking out of my eyes.
On the Burial of My Older Sister
I walked alone a mile today
And noticed blossoms on the way.
Junco parents thought it best
To curse and drive me from their nest.
You did not see; you did not hear;
Because you are far gone from here.
But when we meet again we'll sing
Of burdocks, cow pies, snow in spring,
And waterfalls and ships that sail-
When next we meet beyond the veil. 
Penny Lee Soutar
10 July 2020
Photograph from Kim Newell-Johns