I think I’ve identified the issue that’s driving public policy with respect to COVID-19, at least in the State of Illinois. It came to me as I was reading this article in the Chicago Tribune:
Gov. J.B. Pritzker took his admonition that parts of Illinois could be headed for a reopening reversal downstate on Thursday, as the state continues to see elevated levels of COVID-19 cases and other key metrics.
State officials on Thursday reported 1,772 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus over the prior 24 hours. That’s the first time the count has climbed above 1,700 since Memorial Day.
“Every region has increasing positivity rates and increasing cases. This is hugely problematic,” Pritzker said Thursday at a news conference in downstate Ottawa. “It means that we’re going to have to take a hard look at what do we need to do, what mitigations do we need now in order to get us back in line with the direction that we were going, which was reducing those positivity rates.”
I think he’s assuming a fixed relationship between the morbidity and mortality rates for COVID-19. Is there actually any evidence of that? The “morbidity” means the prevalence of a disease. The “mortality” means the death rate due to it. I think we can all agree that if there are no new cases of COVID-19 there won’t be any deaths among those non-existent cases, either.
I think it’s reasonable to assume that as the number of cases increase, the number of deaths will, too, but not necessarily in any fixed relationship. It might actually be true that as the number of cases increase, the proportion of those cases that lead to death will decrease. Go back and take a look at my post of a day or so ago. Isn’t that what the numbers seem to be saying?
Until there’s a safe, effective, affordable vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, we’re not going to reduce the number of new cases to zero. We should be prepared that may never happen. And as long as there are any cases, unless there’s a safe, effective, affordable treatment, there’s a risk that the disease will lead to death. We need to be prepared for that possibility, too.