Sunday, March 17, 2024

COVID 2020 to 2024

Almost exactly 4 years ago I wrote about COVID here. You might want to review. One of the salient points is this chart.

American deaths, slightly rounded.
Vietnam    58,300  over 20 years, with peak death rates in the 70's so a low deaths per month rate overall. First real time graphic media coverage of a war, so that might be part of the impact.
Korea            36,500    36 months    1,000/month
WWI           116,000    19 months    6,100/month
WWII          417,000   45 months   9,200/month
Civil War     750,000   48 months  15,600/month
COVID        140,000    5 months   28,000/month (so far, and the number of cases is growing daily. The death rate cannot but rise along with it.) (this was as of March 2020.)
Spanish Flu  675,000  12 months   56,000/month
(As a note, the USA population in 2018 was about 103 million people, so about half of 1 percent of the American population died of Spanish Flu.)

And now, COVID in 2024, as of last week per CID here, is 1.184 MILLION deaths out of a total population of 332 million. Those deaths are the entire population of cities like San Jose, San Diego, or Dallas. All of these are in the top 10 cities ranked by population. Imagine that, one of the biggest cities in America, with everybody dying. Over 4 years that is 24,600/month. 

Or another way to think about it, COVID killed a third of 1 percent of the population, and that's WITH our knowledge base about disease, and the treatments available. And on the flip side, that's WITH the anti-vaxx, anti-mask, anti-public heath measure idiots.

Total hospitalizations is 6.88 MILLION, or 2 percent of the American population were sick enough to go to a hospital. They don't know how many were sick enough to go, but didn't because they couldn't afford it. Or waited too long and died before they got there. 

So far in Canada, according to this government site, there have been 58,643 deaths from COVID. That's the population of St. Alberta, almost the population of Prince George. There were 55 in the last week alone. 

I worked from home mid 2020 to middish 2021, then retired from oil and gas work. I've mostly lost touch with people still working, but the little I do hear is that most office workers are still working at least part time from home. The bosses are trying to nudge the workers back to full time in the office, and there's some push back. During the walk through the +15 a couple weeks ago we noted there weren't many people around, and that was lunchtime on a Tuesday. 

There are still complaints that business can't hire enough people, which is why it takes so long to get stuff done, and why it's so expensive. As a quick digression, many people blame Trudeau for this. Him personally, with malice aforethought, did everything bad over the last couple generations. He personally signed all the CERB cheques that got sent to a bunch of freeloaders. I have heard those very words straight from the lips of cranky old men in the hot tub. I bite my tongue. When they start babbling about Trump I leave, fearing the verbal diarrhea might turn to the fecal version.

Here we are 4 years later. In lots of ways we're back to 'normal'. Before COVID there were a few people wearing masks for whatever reason, and now it's about the same again. Traffic is as bad as ever. I don't go to the malls much, but the parking lots are full. The library is busy. The farmers market we like is busy. Our main supermarket is under active construction, so I don't know if the before/after comparison is fair, but there's still lots of people in it.

And do you know what's really busy? Really, really busy? Hospitals. They are overwhelmed, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Wait times are through the roof. All the illnesses and conditions that could be managed with regular care, all those "optional" procedures, all the older people wanting some level of medical care to prevent or delay worse conditions, were deferred or delayed because the hallways were full of people dying of COVID. And now all that deferred treatment is coming home to roost, in a system where the medical professionals have been drained dry over the last 4 years. Many have retired, taken stress leave, or just burned out. And if that wasn't bad enough, Alberta's idiot UCP government chose to pick a fight with the doctors and nurses in an effort to send money to privatized clinics that would benefit Minister Shandro and other buddies of the regime.

That's part of the Conservative mind-set. Defund the public services, then claim they don't work, cherry pick the best parts to be outsourced to their buddies for private profit. Except it doesn't work. Service at the medical labs took an abrupt turn for the worse when privatized. It used to be one could make an appointment for a couple days out, no problem, and urgent tests could often be done the same day. Last time I needed blood work done it was 5 weeks till the first appointment at all, and 6 to get one that was mostly convenient. Even with the scheduling, the appointments were running 45 minutes to an hour late, for a reserved time. Now we're going to have to spend 31.5 million to rescue the lab services from Dynalife. We should get that money from the people that made the decision to hire Dynalife by suing them into bankruptcy. Plus the Dynalife execs.

And some people think it's a good idea to let the UCP strip off a pile of money from the CPP managers, and let their pet investment agency (Aimco) 'manage' it. Or more likely, lose it through politically motivated boondoggles, just like the Heritage Fund. Don't get me started.

Back to COVID. Disease is the scourge of humanity. In many wars disease killed more than the fighting. Disease doesn't care if your cause is noble. Disease doesn't care what god or gods you worship, or don't. A human lifetime ago, if you got infected from any of a nearly infinite number of causes, you had a small chance of fighting it off, but most likely you died. Half the people born didn't make it to 15. It was a pretty grim world. 

We know so much more now. We know our hands are a great disease vector, and washing them with soap and water is a great way to break the chain of infection. It took a long time to convince doctors that going directly from doing an autopsy to a childbirth was a great way to kill mother and child. Some people still don't get it.

It takes a special sort of stupid to believe that the vaccine is worse than the disease. Yes, there are a few people who for various reasons cannot or should not be vaccinated, and an actual medical doctor can provide the appropriate advice. Not a priest or any of their ilk, or a youtuber 'expert'. For most people the downside is a sore arm or drowsiness. Better than dying any day. All the excuses are bullshit. Consult the appropriate medical advice and suck it up. Deniers are the major reason why TB and measles are coming back.

Rust never sleeps, so our infrastructures will fall down if not maintained. 
Disease never sleeps. Our best efforts only make it take a short rest.


  1. Great rant, Keith, though I'm a little disappointed you didn't say much about the role of air quality in all this. Even if we could persuade everyone to get vaccinated, the current vaccines aren't nearly effective enough to rely on exclusively. They don't prevent most infection or transmission - at least, not for long - and they appear to have only minimal impact on the risk of long covid. Until we get better vaccines and treatments, we'd be smart to layer protective measures whenever we can. Governments across the country should be moving quickly to improve air quality in public spaces and impose new requirements for private ones, educate people about the significant long-term risks of each infection, reinstate robust testing and reporting programs so folks have actual data to inform their personal risk assessments, and require high quality masks in public spaces when transmission rates are high (as they almost always are now). I know people would prefer to believe the pandemic's over but, as your numbers clearly show, it's not. And it won't be unless and until we get more serious about dealing with. My fear is we're about to find out exactly how bad covid's impacts are for our long-term health. I know far too many people who've come down with shingles, or developed new autoimmune conditions and heart issues, or experienced rapid cognitive decline shortly after they "recovered" from covid. We still don't fully understand what covid is doing to us and we likely won't for years yet but there are now literally hundreds of scientific studies telling we should be very concerned about being repeatedly infected, even when fully vaccinated.

    Anyway, thanks for tackling the subject. Since people avoid even saying the "c" word these days, it's difficult to make much progress persuading them to take better care of themselves and others.

  2. Another worthy rant. As much as I enjoy living in Alberta and grateful for how kind Alberta has been to us, Albertans (broad brush for a broad statement) are prone to cognitive dissonance in at least arenas:
    1) Desire for services without having to pay taxes
    2) Not knowing the difference between rights and responsibilities.
    Cheers, Sean


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