Week 11 (March 9-15)
What a difference a night makes. Tom Hanks has COVID. The NBA and MLB canceled games. It’s going to suddenly become a whole lot easier for mayors to close schools and cancel senior bingo games. Most Americans now recognize that COVID is going to have a major impact on their daily lives. At this time, our goal is that no American city ever looks like Wuhan. Accomplishing that will require collective action and changes to how we socialize and work over a period of weeks or months. Certain economies will be hit very hard. But here are a couple thoughts to help you sleep at night:
- Our children are safe. For unknown reasons, children, teenagers, and young adults are not getting severely ill from COVID. During past influenza pandemics, deaths were concentrated in children and young adults. Young people with underlying conditions are still at risk. But it should help us all sleep better to know that most children do not appear to be at risk for severe disease.
- Tony Fauci. The director of the NIH infectious disease branch is possibly the most revered government official in the country. Serving since 1984, he has guided 5 US presidents on infectious disease threats — HIV/AIDS, SARS, Ebola. We are currently in a leadership vacuum. But having a high-level figure with impeccable scientific credibility who is deeply respected by both Republicans and Democrats in congress should help us sleep at night.
- Tom Hanks probably won’t die. We don’t know the precise fatality rate because our knowledge of mild cases is so low. But we do know that death rates get higher as you get older. At age 63, Hanks is in a higher risk group. The risk of death in the 60-69 age group is 3-4 fold higher than the 50-59 age group. But it’s still probably only a bit higher than 1 out of 100. Tom Hanks was already an American hero. But it’s possible that his decision to report his infection will save Americans lives by getting everyone to finally take this seriously.