Death by Stupid

Something about this short video featuring Florida Governor Ron DeSantis completely sums up the current status of our coronavirus response. See if you can spot it:

Yes. Now on to our scheduled topic:

Some people are still arguing that covid-19 is no worse than seasonal flu. An argument I’ve seen lately is that 61,000 Americans died of flu during the 2017-2018 flu season, while (so far) only 30,000-something Americans have died from covid-19. And we don’t have to close businesses and such during the flu season.

Let’s break this down. Flu seasons vary; they last anywhere from five to seven months, usually from October to March or April. The first case of covid-19 in the U.S. was diagnosed on January 20, and the numbers are still going up. So we’ve just about ended the third month of covid-19 data.

But let’s look at some more data. In the 2017-2018 season, according to the CDC:

  • An estimated 45 million Americans got the flu. Yes, 45 bleeping million.
  • 21 million Americans got medical help for flu.
  • 810,000 were hospitalized.
  • 61,000 died.

That’s a very high number of deaths for flu, btw. Most flu seasons in the U.S., the number of deaths falls somewhere between 12,000 and 40,000.

Now, let’s look at covid-19. We have no idea how many people may actually have the virus, since there isn’t nearly enough testing. But as of the most recent data,

  • Diagnosed coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 728,293
  • Deaths: 38,244

I repeat — during the several months of the infamously bad 2017 flu season, there were approximately 45 million infected and 61,000 deaths.

During our three months of covid-19 in the U.S., we’ve had 728,293 diagnosed cases and 38,244 deaths. And the numbers are still going up. They went up by a few hundred just this morning while I was writing this post.

As math imparied as I am, even I know this ain’t equivalent.

Also, thanks to the flu vaccine that I faithfully get every fall, you have a choice to not get the flu. Although once in a while the people who make the annual flu vaccine miscalculate and don’t get that year’s dose exactly right, usually you can get your flu shot and then go your merry way, neither catching it nor spreading it. Vaccines make quarantines and stay-at-home orders unnecessary, except for anti-vaxxers. Were it not for the flu vaccine, the annual flu would be a much bigger problem than it is. Note that rates of vaccination in the U.S. had dropped significantly for the 2017-2018 season, which may be one reason that year was unusually bad.

I understand most seasonal flus evolve from common flu virsuses already in circulation. The last new virus we dealt with was the h1n1 or “swine” flu that emerged unexpectedly in 2009. Trump fans like to claim that President Obama botched that pandemic, but according to data from the CDC, “From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.” That suggests the government handled that one pretty well in comparison to our current situation, seems to me. It also tells us the swine flu wasn’t nearly as dangerous as covid-19.

I got that flu myself, btw, before the vaccine was ready; it was a nasty flu. I didn’t need to be hospitalized, though. I understand the “swine” flu is still in circulation, but in populations with enough herd immunity it doesn’t pose a threat.

There have been other stupid comparisons of other-things-that-kill you and covid-19. The famous “Doctor Phil” McGraw didn’t exactly glorify himself with this one:

McGraw, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology, compared COVID-19 deaths to those from car crashes, cigarettes, and swimming pool accidents while arguing against the lockdowns that have impacted the nation’s economy in wake of the pandemic. While attempting to make a point that the country isn’t shutdown for those other deaths, McGraw incorrectly stated that 360,000 people die a year from swimming pool accidents. According to the CDC, “an average of 3,536” people die from “unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States.” Which, I’m sure you gathered, is much less that 360,000. …

… The talk show host continued, “I get that, but look, the fact of the matter is we have people dying, 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that but yet we’re doing it for this? And the fallout is going to last for years because people’s lives are being destroyed.”

I’m not going to look up the other stats, but I’m not sure how locking people up would reduce cigarette deaths, assuming people could still get their hands on cigarettes. But while there are many things one can do to reduce your exposure to various health risks — like not smoking — it’s unfortunately the case that you can’t fix stupid.

To repeat:

A Convention of Stupid

6 thoughts on “Death by Stupid

  1. Dr. Phil used the wrong analogy – he should have said "nobody abstains from sex when they get the clap!"

  2. The video – "Conservative starting to come to grips with reality". People whose entire stance is resisting anything new, will look like fools when they have to adapt or die.  They're so used to saying "no" to everything, like children stamping their feet.

    The flu numbers are one thing; they reflect the reality that recovery requires specialized equipment – ventilators – and sedation (otherwise your body fights intubation) – things that normal flu doesn't. I've also read that recovery from being on a ventilator is not a walk in the park – some say you're never the same. And so the damage coronavirus can cause is much more severe than ordinary flu.

  3. To that noted intellectual in the 2nd photo, the guy with the red hat and facemask, holding a sign that says, "Pandemics does NOT cancel our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!"

    Nobody said they does (sic)!

    And for the pandemic "Truthers" out there, who still to this day, claim that it's a hoax to bring down your beloved presiDUNCE, Donald tRUMP, I gotta say, "YA GOT US!  We liberals are SOOOOOOO BUSTED!!!"  

    See, we liberals thought that if we got most of Europe and Asia into this hoax, telling the countries there that to make our hoax work, they'd need to have THEIR citizens maintain safe distances among their people, and that they'd have to have a majority of their folks also self-quarantine, like we're gonna do

     here in America, we figured that you conservatives would never, not ever – NOT NEVAH EVAH!!!!! –  figure out that this is a hoax.


    Now, to celebrate, why don't you conservatives all get together anf take a month off in, oh, say the wilds of South Dakota, isolate yourselves from non-conservatives, and have a CONSERVA-FEST!

    A festival where you can all hang-out, listen to bad music, have group hugs, kiss one another (score, even!), and generally prove to the rest of the country that yes, you too can have your very own 21st Century Woodstock!!!

    We liberals will wait for you to finish your fun time away from the rest of Americans!  (And when the survivors try to return to civilization, we'll have you all quarantined for a coupe of months).                                      BWA-HA-HAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  4. I'm concerned about the armed "demonstrations" at state capitols in combination with Trump tweets to "Liberate" blue states. The gun thing is a component of Trump's stance. Trump objects to the state of VA threatening to take away guns (temporarily) from people who exhibit violent or mentally unstable behavior. 

    In other words, if you show up armed at the State Capitol threatening insurrection, VA reserves the right to confiscate your phallic symbol and give you a time-out.

    These are the same folks who defend a cop who shoots an unarmed person (with dark skin) because the cop thought they might be armed and might be a threat. And they believe they can show up with AK47s threating the governor and the legislature over a bullhorn and they're granted immunity by the Constitution.

    Trump is planning on using these armed "patriots" as poll watchers in minority district of swing states to suppress the vote in a way the GOP never considered. (Yes, that's opinion.) If any swing states devise a legal strategy that authorizes the confiscation of assault weapons in public whenever the owner displays aggressive and/or intimidating conduct, the brown shirts are screwed.

    Trump knows it.

  5. I have always liked Dr. Phil, feeling he had a lot of common sense.  However,  now I am very disappointed in him.  Perhaps he is infected with something far worse than the virus.  Perhaps his show is in jeopardy if he can't have a live audience, perhaps I have just misjudged him.  Anyway, I will not be watching his show again and I  will send him a message telling him why and I will be watching for Oprah to come out with a statement.  In the video he was ranting like a maniac, even his eyes were bulging.  Looks like this virus is really shining a light on everyone exposing them for who they are.  It's very difficult to hide in the light. 

  6. About guns at the pro-plague rallies:

    You can't shoot the virus, and no-one worth shooting would be in range; so those guns prove only that they have only guns.

    In theory that's a threat of insurrection; but the trouble with insurrection during a plague is that you can't riot without a mob; and a mob can't do social distancing; and a sick mob can't riot.

    So the guns are an empty threat, done out of habit.


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