California governor Gavin Newsom has assured his state that over half of the population — or, in his words, 56 percent — will soon be infected. That is, more than 25 million coronavirus cases are on the horizon, which, at the virus’s current fatality rate of 1–2 percent (the ratio of deaths to known positive cases), would mean that the state should anticipate 250,000–500,000 dead Californians in the near future. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti predicted that this week Los Angeles would be short of all sorts of medical supplies as the epidemic killed many hundreds, as is the case in New York City.
It’s been well over two months since the first certified coronavirus case in the United States, so one might expect to see early symptoms of the apocalypse recently forecast by Governor Newsom. Yet a number of California’s top doctors, epidemiologists, statisticians, and biophysicists — including Stanford’s John Ioannides, Michael Levitt, Eran Bendavid, and Jay Bhattacharya — have expressed some skepticism about the bleak models predicting that we are on the verge of a statewide or even national lethal pandemic of biblical proportions.
The skeptics may be right. As of this moment, California’s cumulative fatalities attributed to coronavirus are somewhere over 140 deaths, in a state of 40 million. That toll is a relatively confirmable numerator (though coronavirus is not always the sole cause of death), as opposed to the widely unreliable denominator of caseloads (currently about 6,300 in the state) that are judged to be only a fraction of the population that has been tested. The Iceland study, for example, suggests that half of those who are infected show no symptoms. Currently, even with fluctuating statistics, California is suffering roughly about one death to the virus for every 250,000–300,000 of its residents.
In the case of California, again, unfortunately, the state still should have had many things going against it, at least in terms of susceptibility to any pandemic infection that curbs its huge tourist and commercial travel with China. The state has the nation’s highest poverty rate (affecting over 20 percent of the population, or some 8 million people); the greatest number of homeless people, at somewhere over 150,000; and the most residents in the nation on some form of public assistance, one-third of the nation’s total.
Over a quarter of the state’s population was not born in the U.S. Until recent bans, many frequently went to and from their countries of origin. It has the largest number of non-English speakers in the U.S., suggesting that public dissemination of key information might become far more problematic.
Until now, without either widespread antibody or current-infection testing, the number of people who die from the virus in comparison to a given population base is about all we can rely on to determine the lethality of the disease. And in that regard, at least for a few days or weeks longer, California remains a mystery. Full Story - VICTOR DAVIS HANSON - National Review
The Search For A Scapegoat Has Begun
It is almost a law of human nature: In any crisis, natural disaster or epidemic, sooner or later people will begin to search for the “guilty parties” and events will quickly become politicized.
Emerging crises are usually not taken all that seriously at first. Of course, at some point, panic will break out, but at least initially, the primary focus is on getting to grips with the immediate consequences of a disaster—which is precisely what we are seeing right now with the corona crisis.