The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, December 11, 2020

How Serious is Covid-19?

This isn’t an LBD related issue, but in a way it is. We are all likely either at risk or closely connected to someone who is at risk for Covid-19. Just how serious is it? I thought you might like to see what I found out about some myths I’ve been hearing about Covid-19.

Myth: Repeated testing inflates the numbers. Truth: Each person has an ID and is counted only once no matter how many tests they take. (This is one I did wonder about, what with so many people getting tested and retested regularly.)

Myth: Only seniors are at risk. Truth: The 50,000 Covid deaths of people under 65 is 18.5% of the total number of 270,000 deaths!

  • Covid-19 has surpassed opioid overdoses as leading cause of death for ages 25-44. (This one surprised me!)
  • Anyone with an underlying health condition such as obesity, heart disease, cancer or diabetes is also at risk. (This group makes up 40% of our population. I'm in it. Are you?)
  • Asymptomatic younger people can pass the virus on to those who are at risk. (Like my daughter who lives with 2 ninety year-olds. Or many of you who live with, or want to visit, a loved one with LBD.)
Myth: Hospitals inflate Covid death numbers to get more money. Truth: Hospitals may receive money for Covid deaths, but doctors don’t and they are the ones that do the certifying. (Yes, hospitals get money but the cost per patient is more than they receive and so the hospitals really want this to go away! In addition, they only have limited staff. Here in Arizona, that is becoming a major issue.)

Myth: The 270,000 Covid deaths is very small compared to the total US population. Truth: True, something like .03%. But compared to other death tolls, it is one of the worst.

  • Wars:
    • Vietnam War: 58,000
    • Korean War: 37,000
    • World War II: 405,000
    • World War I: 116,000
    • Civil War: 600,000 to 850,000
  • Pandemics:
    • 2009 H1N1: 12,469
    • 1968 flu: 100,000
    • 1957-58 flu: 116,000
    • 1918 flu: 675,000
    • Covid-19 to date: 270,000 with 450,000 predicted

Myth: The virus is going to do what it is going to do. Protect the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with their lives. Truth: The “vulnerable” are all around us, but there is a lot we can do to stop the spread.

  • Since about 40% of Americans are in the at-risk group, even those who are not at risk are probably in close contact with someone who is.
  • We know that it is a respiratory disease that mainly infects via breathing, thus masks and social distancing provide protection.
And so, bottom line, stay home as much as possible, wear your mask and do social distancing when you go out. Use the computer and phone to keep in contact with your loved ones! And lets all pray that a vaccine comes quickly and works well!

References: Nicole Carroll, Why Do People Deny the Seriousness of Covid-19? USA TODAY, with number updates from the John Hopkins University. Friday, December 4, 2020,

 Gillian Brockell, 250,000 Lives Lost: How the Pandemic Compares to Other Deadly Events in U.S. History. The Washington Post, November 19, 2020.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia, Ed. 2
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
Responsive Dementia Care: Fewer Behaviors Fewer Drugs
Lewy Body Dementia: A Manual for Staff

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

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