Thursday, May 7, 2020

Home Sweet Home?

Every passing day it seems we learn something new about Covid-19.

I recently questioned why we were seeing so many cases of Covid-19 when we have been locked down for seven weeks. We are actually seeing about twice as many cases this week in my home state of Ohio as we saw a month ago. This is despite the state has being essentially locked down since March 16.

This is what I wrote earlier this week in "So Much We Don't Know".

In my home state of Ohio, we are continuing to see about 500-600 new cases per day. This is after more than six weeks of stay-at-home orders with a virus that has an average incubation period of around 5 days.

The number of daily cases are actually about double what they were in the early April when we were just over three weeks into the stay-at-home order.

Where are the new cases coming from?

Are they among workers at essential businesses who never closed?

Customers who went out briefly to buy essential supplies at the grocery store?

Are they among health care workers?

Are they among family members of health care workers or others who were working in essential businesses?

Nursing home residents?


Or is this just a function of more testing?

It seems New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was asking the same questions as that state is still seeing as many as 4,000 new confirmed cases per day despite being locked down. Cuomo recently announced that New York had looked into where the new cases were coming from and he admitted that answers to these questions were nothing short of "shocking".

Based on a recent survey of those hospitalized in New York over a 3-day period of 1,200 patients at 113 hospitals, the state found that the overwhelming number of those who recently were hospitalized with the virus were retired or unemployed and were sheltering in place and leaving their home only to shop for essentials. 

In total, 83% of the new cases were of those retired or unemployed.

The survey also found that almost no one hospitalized with the virus had been working in an essential service. There were very few hospital, transit, grocery or drug store employees.

Only 17% of the new cases that were investigated were of those employed.

This low percentage also suggested that the use of public transit by these workers in getting to work was not driving infections that would cause hospitalizations. In fact, most of these people did not use any transportation for the most part because they were at home. 90% of new hospitalized cases in New York City were compliant with the state at home order. Those using public transportation was miniscule.

As we have to come to expect with Covid-19, those newly hospitalized tend to be older.  59% are age 60 or older. Only 17% are age 40 or younger,

About one-quarter of new cases that have ended up in the hospital were living in some type of nursing or senior living home before being hospitalized. Very few of those in prisons have had to be hospitalized.

Where are the new cases coming from? These were the initial findings in New York according to Governor Cuomo.

In summary, New York found that new cases were generally older people who were not working, not traveling and staying at home as they have been told to do.

In other words, people are doing exactly what was recommended by the authorities but they still ended up in the hospital with the virus.

How is that possible?

This leads to yet more unanswered questions.

Did younger people in the household bring the virus home? If this is the case there are many, many more asymptomatic carriers in our midst than anyone knows.

Did these people catch the virus in some of their short trips out of their home? If this the case the virus has to be even more contagious than is now believed. It also has to be more prevalent everywhere.

If almost all the new hospitalizations are older people who were sheltering at home anyway, what sense does it make to lock down the entire economy? We have done about as much as can be done and it seems that we still can't protect a number of vulnerable people. 

Could it be that being locked inside and not outside in the sunshine (Vitamin D) makes someone more susceptible to the virus? If you don't think this is a possibility consider that the states of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are averaging 14,401 cases and 1,002 deaths per million. The states of Florida, Texas and Arizona are averaging 1,543 cases and 60 deaths per million. (Data from, 5/8/20, 10:38GMT).

Do we quarantine everybody over 70 (60?, 50?) and don't allow anyone in or out of their home for several months?

How far are we prepared to go?

How much longer can we lock down the economy without doing irreparable harm to everyone under age 50?

Home Sweet Home?

It doesn't look like it in New York.

Many other people around the country are also starting to question the premise about now as well.

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