Isolation and quarantine have given everyone around the world time to assess the performance of their leaders during the health crisis. Given that nothing like this ongoing pandemic has occurred in 100 years, and considering medical advances since that time, disease status assessments have been a bit shaky and not that informative.
Nevertheless, there are basic facts and data that would really help mankind in its efforts to survive the coronavirus. In the face of Trump’s constant barrage of positive self-assessments, many believe data that should be the basis of public policy is slow to arrive and is hampering the progress of dealing with the pandemic.
What data do medical people need to observe to give them confidence that the situation is improving? Most importantly, they must have an accurate count of how many people have contracted the disease and how many died from it. This would reveal whether the situation is worsening, has leveled off or is improving. Determining new cases has been a problem because there were not enough test kits available at the start of this huge problem. But knowing death statistics can and should be available with a relatively simple compilation effort.
Let’s dig further into the death count issue. Assessing the worldwide coronavirus situation is interesting, but not so informative. More useful is knowing how each hotspot around the world is progressing or regressing. So, consider New York City because it is recognized as the current epicenter of the disease.
To make projections about whether the pandemic is getting better or worse, medical statisticians have to know how many people are dying every day from the disease. The data should be presented by areas of New York City, by age groups and the causes of death, which is usually respiratory related.
To gather this information every hospital and doctor must cooperate and complete a recap of deceased virus victims. It should be a relatively easy process. Who died? How old were they at death? What was their sex? What killed them specifically? Where did they live?
What would this data do for the medical projections and expectations related to the coronavirus? Here’s a short list:
- We would know how many people died each day which would enable health experts to forecast, with some accuracy, the current slope of prospective fatalities.
- We would know what parts of New York City are the most infected.
- We may be able to identify specific facts about a hotspot that make it more susceptible to the virus.
- We would know the sex, age, race, physical condition and location of every person that has died. Why is this important? One observation made recently is that poor people are more vulnerable to the disease. Is this because the people live close together, have poorer sanitary conditions and/or are they not inclined to follow guidelines from the authorities? This could encourage greater involvement by local leaders, which could in turn result in fewer deaths.
- We would know whether age and sex were related to the deaths. This information will likely decrease panic throughout the population.
I’m not a statistician, but this assessment alone would greatly assist authorities as they guide us through the pandemic. We have gone to the moon and conquered all types of diseases over the years. We should be able to account for the deaths in our City and use the information to combat the pandemic.