We receive daily report of the number of cases and fatalities caused by Covid 19 for the entire world. As businesses begin to open, it is important to know that the risks of infections is NOT the same everywhere. There are clearly areas where infections are likely and others where infections will be very unlikely.
As an example, the numbers of cases and fatalities in New York and New Jersey dominate the statistics for the entire US.
On 5/4/2020, the US statistics were:
A more granular look. New York state has reported 24,874 deaths. This is 36% of all the deaths in the US. NJ has reported 7926 deaths. Together New York and New Jersey account for 48% of all the deaths in the US. In fact, if New York and New Jersey were a country they would have a combined 32800 deaths and would have more deaths than any other country in the world. New York and New Jersey only have 9% of the US population yet account for 38% of Covid 19 deaths. In other words, the number of deaths shown in the graph would be reduced by half if New York and New Jersey were not included.
It is reminded that these are the confirmed cases of Covid testing. As reported earlier, the actual number of infections, as determined by antibody testing, in New York state is over 2.6 million. Antibody testing across the US has not been completed but the distribution of those actually infected may be different from the current pictures.New York: Nearly 3 million infections – not 276,000
New York state is also an interesting example of how different the Covid 19 impact can be in different regions of the same state. Yesterday, NY reported on the results of antibody testing of 15000 patients from all the different regions of NY to assess the actual number of people who have been infected with Covid 19. In New York City, Westchester or Long Island over 11% of the people have been infected (19.9, 13,8 and 11.4 respectively). However if you live in any other area of New York, less than 3% of the population has been infected.
However, 32 states have fatalities of less than 100 deaths/million people.
12 of these states have less than 50 deaths/million.
Although each death is tragic, fatality rates of less than 100/million are in the range of (and perhaps less than) seasonal flu values.
All of this data clearly shows that there are states and areas within states where Covid 19 is far more deadly than others. Fortunately, most of the United States does not share the same high mortality rates. The risk for opening businesses is clearly not the same for every area.
This does not mean, however, that precautions should be taken as these business openings continue. There is little doubt that there will be some additional infections as more personal interactions occur but grocery stores, pharmacy and other essential businesses have remained open all of this time and I’m unaware of any outbreaks from these sources. Also, countries like Japan have low infections and fatality rates without having to shutdown the country. Also countries like Sweden which has instituted far fewer restrictions has not fared worse than countries with strict lock down policies. Sweden: A Different Covid 19 Plan I’m just pointing out that there is hope for reopening businesses without reigniting infections. The Japan Experience: No mass shutdown. No mass isolation. Fewer cases and fatalities. What can we learn?
It will be crucial to be vigilant to identify any signs of outbreak and infection and do ‘infection tracking’ for infected persons to go into quarantine.
Monitor and adapt. I believe that a good strategy would be for each business to monitor any infections occurring related to their business. If infections seem to be low or not occurring, policies may adapt to be less strict. If infections seemed to increasing and related to business then policies may adapt to be more restricitive. In each case, monitor and adapt will allow the implementation of the best balance of health safety and business.
Know the specifics of the area where you live. The general numbers you hear in the news may not reflect where you are. More knowledge will help manage your risks and fears.