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It's Time the Politicians Provided Some Meaningful Information

April 27, 2020

Dear Editor,

We are treated to a daily litany of reasons from our elected leaders -- who claim to rely on science -- to justify often draconian actions that are tantamount to house arrest because they will curb the spread of the coronavirus.

We are continually told that all these actions -- which are strictest in the bluest states -- are data driven and that a return to anything resembling controlled normalcy will take place when the data allow.

At the same time, these politicians and health experts fail to share relevant information in digestible form with their public -- at the national, state and local levels.

This is information that clearly must be available and accessible to these decision makers if they are using it to support their orders.

Sure, we get some counts. For example, as reported daily in Los Angeles County, we are told how many of those with the coronavirus died, how many were over 65, how many had underlying health conditions, how many persons tested positive for the day.

And, lately, we have been provided some information about the numbers of persons in certain communities, including Los Angeles, that may actually have had coronavirus and had minor or no symptoms and, therefore, never sought medical care, let alone testing.

Here is what information the general public is entitled to, information that is likely readily available and understood even by sixth graders.

It could be prepared and updated daily, or every two or three days, using an Excel spreadsheet and published widely in the media in the form of a chart.

On the left-hand side running from top to bottom, provide the following lines:

Age
0-14 years
15-24 years
25-34 years
35-44 years
45-54 years
55-64 years
65-74 years
75-84 years
85+ years

Note that Los Angeles County does not provide specific information about the 75-84 and 85-plus categories, although national numbers do provide that context.

Lumping the categories together overstates the deaths in the 65-74 category and arguably increases the fear of those in that age range.

Across the top, provide a series of columns to provide the actual numbers for each group with the following information:

Total number of positive coronavirus tests
Total number of hospitalizations
Total number of hospitalized placed in ICU (at any time)
Total number of the ICU patients placed on a ventilator
Total number of patients with significant underlying health conditions
Total number estimated Corona virus infections in the community

If the information described above is provided -- yes, by age group -- there is ample reason to believe the virus has spread widely among the 15 to 64 age group with relatively few adverse health outcomes (except for those with significant underlying health conditions), while those under 15 have probably not been affected in any measurable way.

So why aren't we being provided with this information? One explanation is that the public, and specifically "voters," would not be happy where we’ve been taken.

Weeks ago, when we knew far less about the coronavirus, closing a vast portion of the economy to "bend the curve" was not subject to serious criticism. But bending the curve was never intended to eradicate the disease; it was meant to avoid imploding the health care system.

There is plenty of reason to believe we passed the point of implosion some time ago (albeit in a limited number of "hot spots," where we should exercise an abundance of caution).

To ‘bend the curve’ we took millions -- literally tens of millions of people, including a staggering numbers of students and working individuals -- and locked them into their living quarters.

The idea that we continue to close the entire economy, let along public parks and beaches to millions of Americans not at much greater risk than they are during a typical flu season is absurd.

And, for those who think there are no consequences to simply printing money and giving it to people, there is ample evidence in the history of failed countries to conclude otherwise.

Kip Dellinger
Santa Monica

 


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