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The Pandemic: Is It Real?

January 13, 2021 | Random | No Comments

Corona Virus

Oh man, what a clickbait title, although I doubt it’s worth SEO cred as it’s probably already the title of a million articles linked from Fox News or Breitbart or mentioned by Alex Jones.

But if you aren’t sure if there really is a Global Pandemic or not (or if you’re a total stranger and are curious about my take on it), stay tuned.

I was at soccer tonight (outdoors, freezing weather, low contact, as safe as we can make it) and I got into a discussion about the current state of public education in Georgia due to everything that’s going on right now. Specifically, we were talking about teachers and how a lot of them are really between a rock and a hard place right now, unable to make the best choice for their health and their families as most of the school districts around here were forcing them to be on-site and teach in person while numbers go through the roof in Georgia, regardless of the age or general health of the teacher (meanwhile, kids get to choose either in-person or virtual).

My friend, who is a special ed. teacher, was talking about how his school has been lucky so far, with very few cases among teachers even though the students have appeared and disappeared as outbreaks and contact tracing absences seemed to ripple through school population.

“But I’m not sure I really believe in all of that, anyway,” he added.

I was confused. What did he not believe in? That kids were actually absent? That teachers were healthy and not just hiding symptoms? Or that there really isn’t a Global Pandemic going on right now that was claiming the lives of thousands of Americans each day and at the worst it’s been to-date?

I’m kidding, I wasn’t confused at all–he was saying he didn’t believe in the pandemic, of course.

And it is. The pandemic is real. Now you know the truth–and which side of the truth I like to be on (hint: I’m PRO-truth).

My teammate had multiple theories (or “solid facts” to him, I suppose) that he’d heard somewhere. The first was that all the Covid numbers were inflated because hospitals got paid big for every Covid death so they counted any death–heart attack, car accident, whatever–as due to the corona virus. This whole last year, the corona virus had just been one big fat sham on the part of the tens of thousands of hospitals and clinics in America, all of whom had secretly agreed to follow the same script to get rich off the…um, this part wasn’t clear…insurance companies, maybe?

I poke fun, but I’ve heard the same suggestion from a surprising number of people within my own and my wife’s families. And having had the discussion so many times already, I was just exhausted by it and couldn’t hold my tongue. But in my defense, I tried to keep this from becoming a full blown argument by not exactly refuting his “hospital pyramid scheme” idea and instead, coming at him with something he may not have considered.

“But have you heard the high number of ‘excess deaths’ in 2020? I just can’t think of anything else that would explain the huge increase in mortality last year if it’s not the virus.”

Excess deaths are defined as the number of persons who have died from all causes, in excess of the expected number of deaths for a given place and time. Put much more simply, how high over the average were we. And the answer for the US is, of course, we were very freaking high.

There were almost 300,000 excess deaths in 2020. That’s 300k more deaths than the experts predicted based on prior year numbers and taking into account ever-worsening trends in public health, rising costs of healthcare, increasing suicide rates (more on that later), etc. We had 300,000 more deaths last year than we should have had. And seeing as how we weren’t engaged in the deadliest war in American history, there’s just no obvious explanation for all of those extra deaths.

“Suicide, man!” my friend offered. He went on to tell me about the grave impact the pandemic is having on mental health and how it’s increasing suicide rates. He was absolutely right on the first point, and most likely will be right on the second (2020 numbers aren’t in yet, but they do expect to see growth–especially since suicide rates have grown 60 percent in the US since 2007 and go up every year). He said something about the cure being worse than the disease, which I’ve also heard repeated by my family members several times.

Come on. The excess death count was around 300k and the US suicide rate has been around 48k a year over the last few years. Unless we’re experiencing an event like in The Happening, where the trees are putting out pheromones that force people to inflict self-harm in order to reduce the US population as punishment for us being bad to the environment, I honestly don’t think suicide really jumped that much in one year. And if it did, no hospital collusion could keep the media from catching wind and bumping both COVID and the Capitol insurrection from the homepage.

Our discussion didn’t go much further. The game was about to start and he was struggling to come up with a counterpoint other than, “Is too.”

I don’t think I changed his mind. I expect he still believes this is Fake News and will surely attribute any dampening of the pandemic due to vaccine distribution to instead being from naturally gained herd immunity. But maybe I cast enough doubt that he’ll at least cover his bets and get the shot?

Because whether he believes it or not, people, the pandemic is real. Don’t believe fictions you can easily dismantle with a quick trip to Snopes.com. Instead, wear your mask, stay home, push off those group parties and other such plans and hunker down.

This, too, shall pass. But not if we all act like idiots.

*I know, this sounds like a spoiler, but I honestly saved you from one of the worst movies of all time. It’s a dark, often gory action film where a high school science teacher played by Marky Mark tries to keep his family safe while pretty much everyone else in the film commits suicide in the most graphic ways possible. What was the cause? It was Mother Nature all along, killing off humanity for not taking global warming seriously, I guess. But it sort of has a happy ending, because she apparently had a target number in mind and once the US population gets low enough, she calls off her dogs and moves on to teach France a lesson. But you’d better not use aerosol hair spray or stuff like that, or she’ll be back. Seriously, it’s terrible.