This Is Not The Flu
The Corona Virus is making headlines all over the world. Many people are out there thinking that it’s an over-reaction. On today’s show we’re going to take a departure from real estate and talk about the major factors that you need to consider during this unprecedented moment in history.
There’s no question that the disease and the threat of the disease are having a major economic impact. Events have been cancelled all over the world, quarantines and large scale lockdowns are underway in a number of areas, employers have asked people to work from home, and health care workers are sharing some harrowing tales.
On today’s show we’re going to break down the three major conflicting factors that individuals, governments and communities alike need to balance.
- The need to confine the spread of the disease
- Keep the economy and society running as smoothly as possible
- Protect the health care system from being overwhelmed
Let’s go into these three areas one by one. I’ve seen many statements on television, on the internet, including from doctors that this isn’t any different than the influenza. All these quarantines are an over-reaction.
Let’s look at the numbers for the corona virus and see if we agree. The influenza does kill a number of people each year. It’s usually in the range of about 0.1% of cases result in death, and these are heavily skewed towards older people with other health issues and compromised immune systems.
If we look at the data from the current outbreak in Italy, there are a total of 7375 people known to have been infected as of March 8, and increase of almost 1,500 compared with the day before. So far the disease has claimed the lives of 366 people. There are 622 who have recovered and 650 who are in serious or critical condition. So if you were to measure the case fatality rate you would divide the number of deaths by the number of cases where you know the outcome. They either got better, or they didn’t. You can’t include the number of new cases where people just tested positive because you don’t know the outcome. You only know the case fatality rate retrospectively.
The WHO is estimating the case fatality rate at 3.4%. I frankly don’t see how they get that number. If you accept the WHO number, then the case fatality rate is about 34 times higher than the annual influenza. But if you look at the actual numbers from China you get a different picture. Their case fatality rate is running at about 5%. If you look at the numbers from Italy, you get a very different picture. If you do the math you get a case fatality rate of 37%. That’s a huge number. It’s possible that the number will come down in the future, but we don’t know the outcome of the newly reported cases so its too soon to include those new infections in the statistics.
Let’s move on to number 2, the need to keep the economy moving. If the entire economy came to a standstill and you couldn’t get food to the grocery stores, you would start to see mass famine, social unrest, anarchy and the impact of that could be worse than the coronavirus. So you clearly need to keep the economy moving. That’s important.
Number 3, is protecting the health care system. If the hospitals become overwhelmed, then you end up with health care workers coming down with the disease. They get taken off the job and now you’re dealing with a major staff shortage, and you also lose beds that would be needed for the numerous other ailments.
This is the difficult balancing act that governments have to orchestrate. I predict that you will see an increasing amount of triage taking place. In a triage environment you are only handling the most severe cases up to your capacity. Everything else gets pushed to the back of the queue. Make sure you have a plan for your family that includes the possibility of lockdown for 30 days or more.