Sunday, October 25, 2020

Worrisome numbers, and they keep going up

In a press release issued Friday evening, the Cook County Chief Judge's Office advised that another judge and 10 employees of the Office of Chief Judge have tested positive for COVID-19. Three residents of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center also tested positive.

With this announcement, 115 employees of the Chief Judge's Office have tested positive for COVID-19, including 50 employed at the JTDC. Additionally, five judges and 36 JDTC residents have tested positive.

I suspect a lot of us are getting numb to numbers like these. I am.

We are into, now, our eighth month of what was sold as a two-week shutdown.

I was anxious at the outset, confessing that, on the morning before the primary, I just couldn't summon my usual enthusiasm for the election. Why the heck were we proceeding with our unnecessarily early Illinois primary if it was unsafe to go to work, go to school, dine out, hold the St. Patrick's Day parades, conduct the NCAA basketball tournament, start the baseball season, travel....? We were all required to put our lives on hold -- just as soon as we voted.

That same day, March 16, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 12 new cases of coronavirus. Twelve. The first COVID-19 death in Illinois was announced on March 17.

Yesterday, Saturday, October 24, the State announced 6,161 new cases. Sundays, like today, typically have lower numbers than those reported in the immediately preceding days and today is no exception: only 4,062 new cases were announced today. Only. Just 338.5 times the number of cases reported on March 16. As opposed to yesterday, when the number of new cases was over 513 times the number of cases on March 16.

And 9,504 people have died from the virus, according to the IDPH, since that first death was announced on the Feast of St. Patrick. The numbers spiked for awhile, as the following Google graphic shows, but even as the numbers of cases has climbed to record heights, the numbers of deaths have subsided somewhat.

(Sharp-eyed readers will note that these numbers will not track exactly with those reported by the IDPH. But they are close.)

There have been a lot of reasons advanced for the decrease in COVID-19 fatalities. Among these,

  • The virus has mutated and is not as dangerous as it once may have been (there is certainly some evidence that the virus has mutated, perhaps several times, since it has gotten loose in the world, but the jury is out on the question of whether the mutations are really less dangerous);

  • More widespread testing has discovered more, but less serious, cases (certainly the number of tests administered has increased in Illinois, if not everywhere);

  • Doctors are doing a better job of treating the disease. (Remember ventilators? In the early days of our shutdown, the State of Illinois was chartering flights to China to acquire ventilators and other medical supplies. Except that people on ventilators had a distressing tendency to die anyway. Promptly putting patients on their stomachs instead of their backs seemed more helpful in many cases. And other therapies and medications have been deployed with increasing success, after trial and often heartbreaking error.)

The most accurate explanation may involve some combination of all these factors.

But just because the disease seems not to be as fatal, the disease is still maddeningly disruptive. Many people are asymptomatic -- the Chief Judge's press release Friday was careful to note, "Most JTDC residents who have tested positive have been asymptomatic" -- but others are forever changed by the virus. They get better... but they don't seem to ever get well. And there does not seem to be anyway of figuring, in advance, who is likely to have lingering problems, sometimes quite severe, and who is likely to bounce back whole.

Now the holidays are imperiled. Bars and restaurants, only newly reopened, are being closed down again (no on-premises service) in Chicago's suburbs. New restrictions are being imposed on bars in Chicago (but, don't worry, cannabis consumption and cultivation remain essential industries). I am so sorry for our friends and neighbors who own restaurants or bars, or work in them, or who otherwise work in the hospitality or tourist industries.

Science will, probabaly, and maybe even soon, come up with a vaccine. But it's not here yet. Meanwhile, the only way that we can help ourselves, and our neighbors, is to wear a mask. So wear a mask.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is great Corona fatigue among us who are doing the right things, but for others, they could care less. THEY are the problem. And it seems they're winning. But there is hope, as treatments that at least work on some people (yes, even hydroxychloroquine works on some people) have been found, and vaccine tests and development continue. In addition to the safety measures, people who care can donate extra computer time to two projects run by universities and IBM.
One is called Folding@home, the other is the IBM World Community grid. By running apps in the background on computers, tablets, and smartphones, YOU can help the study of the virus, as well as possible treatments and cures. Have an old computer gathering dust? Dust it off, download the software, and start running jobs and uploading results to the scientists. We ALL can play a role in beating Covid, and this is yet another way.