Society Magazine

Missourians! We've Got to Work on This!

Posted on the 29 March 2020 by Morage @kebmebms

I just ran across a bit of a possibly frightening article today over at the Post-Dispatch's site.
Missourians! We've Got to Work on This!
This week, Missouri saw a 600% jump in coronavirus cases — the largest increase in the country
ST. LOUIS — There is no sign of a dip in coronavirus cases in St. Louis or Missouri. The region’s caseload is rocketing upward, with the state seeing a more than 600% increase in total cases over the past week — the largest percentage increase in the country as of Thursday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
And a lack of widespread testing largely means that experts aren’t sure when the region will reach the peak of its curve — clouding their ability to know when normal life might resume. They hope they will be able to better predict in coming days how much protective measures, like social distancing and widespread restrictions on public activities, are working.
The spread of the virus in Missouri this past week stands out, even compared to neighbors. In Illinois, where the state is under lockdown, the number of confirmed cases grew by 237% in the same period.
“The more we test right now, the more we’ll find,” said Chris Prener, a sociologist at St. Louis University.

And then there's this from the doctor/classmate of mine from yesterday.
With cases in MO increasing over 25% to 836, and doubling at the rate of every 3 days, hospital system overload is now estimated to occur before April 16th. At some point the curve will break and the number of new cases will slow, but the real question is when? If we knew how many people were currently infected, we could make a better educated guess. But we only know the number of cases REPORTED; the true number is higher, but we don't know how much higher.
AN EDUCATED GUESS: If we assume a couple of things, first, that the total number that get infected will be about 70% of the population (for MO that would be about 4.27 Million), and second, that the number of people infected really IS the number reported (which is not true, but for this purpose we will use it anyway), then you can look at the calendar below and see that the 4.27 million mark will be reached about May 17th.
Since a bell-shaped curve has as much area on one side as it does on the other, one back-of-the-envelope way to do this calculation would be to simply count back one single doubling time (4 days) from May 17th to get the peak, in other words May 13th. This is because in one doubling time as many cases occur as those in all the time previously.
Since the number of actual cases is something more than the number of reported cases, the peak will definitely occur before May 13th (if 70% get infected). Another reason is that the number of cases reported is doubling faster than every 4 days right now. But if more than 70% get infected, the error can only be about 1 day longer. And if the ultimate number infected is less than 70%, the peak will also occur sooner.
So a reasonable guess is that the number of new cases in Missouri will peak out within 6 weeks or so, sooner depending on how many people are infected now. But the question is, how many people will have been infected at the peak? How badly will the hospital system be swamped?
If we assume even more optimistically that the peak will occur in only 5 weeks, then Missouri will need over 50,000 hospital beds to accommodate all those patients, assuming also that 14% will need to be hospitalized. And we are told that only 3000 beds are available.
CONCLUSION: We need to do everything possible NOW to slow down the virus. It is a grave error not to ask everyone to wear a mask--any mask--and not to shut down as much interaction as possible NOW. Unless we are completely wrong and severely underestimating the true infection rate, every single day lost means that more people will die needlessly. It is too big a risk to take with the lives of our loved ones.
It would be far better to have tried too hard to save lives than to not have tried hard enough.

So let's all hunker down there, folks. Be well. Stay well. Stay at home.
See you on the other side.


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