The US has been hard hit by the Covid-19 global pandemic. On average, there are about 1000 deaths per day. That is a lot of people and it translates to about 30 deaths for every 100,000 Americans. The Trump Administration has argued that the US is doing better than many other nations, but this claim is misleading.
The US is a large country, much larger than many others in both landmass and population. The whole nation is not suffering an outbreak at the same time. Take New York, for example. The covid-19 mortality rate in the State of New York is nearly 150 per 100,000 population. That is much higher than the 30 per 100k that has been advertised, a statistic that relies on including the mortality rate in states and territories where Covid-19 has only begun to make an appearance. It is also the worst mortality rate we know of–so far.
Hopefully, we will not see 150 deaths per 100k population again, in the US or any other country. It is less than 1% of the population, but it remains a lot of people. It is enough to overwhelm health systems and mortuary services. We know from the situation in New York that services could not keep up. The City had to resort to storing bodies in refrigerator trucks and burying people in mass graves. Before the pandemic, about 25 unclaimed bodies per week were buried in the Hart Island pauper’s field. During the outbreak of Covid-19, that number increased to 25 people per day.
This is not unusual. Many regions around the world have had to resort to mass graves as the dead are coming too quickly for authorities to deal with. The morgues and cemeteries were quickly filled, but the dead kept coming. Mass graves are being used in Iran, and Brazil, as well.
In Italy, the military was called in to collect and transport the dead to cemeteries and crematoriums around the country. Ecuador issued an apology after authorities were unable to collect 100 people that had died in the town of Guayaquil before 3 days had passed.
These logistical struggles with the disposal of deceased persons are due to a mere increase of about 355,000 deaths out of a global population of nearly 8 billion. Some people might say the death toll from Covid-19 is low, even lower than the flu, but that is not the point. The point is that our communities are unable to absorb the death rate a mere 4 or 5 months into the global pandemic. What will happen if the current outbreaks increase, or when the second wave comes?
The facts are that in the 2018-2019 flu season, the US suffered 34,200 deaths. That was over a 12 month period. The first official US death from Covid 19 occurred on February 29th, 2020. That is a mere 3 months ago and already there are 100,000 people dead. Does that sound like an illness less serious than the flu?
Imagine being at the city morgue to deal with the death of a loved one, but the morgue is so overwhelmed they ask you for help. That has happened.
At Rio’s Hospital Salgado Filho in a lower-middle class neighbourhood, Clovis de Castro, whose ailing sister Genina had just died, found himself helping out in the hospital’s morgue. He waited six hours to sort out death certificate paperwork in what he described as a chaotic scene in the morgue, with grieving relatives arriving to identify bodies and only one worker available to move corpses. At one point, he was asked to lend a hand.
“I had to help a person to put a body in a coffin,” de Castro said, adding that the experience made him “realize that people need help, the hospital needs help, the country needs help.”CTV News
Brazil has suffered 25,598 deaths so far, and they are already straining under the pressure. Their first wave of Covid-19 is just beginning. What horrors does Covid-19 have in store for Brazil, and for the world?
People are in denial. They do not seem to be able to see the effects of the pandemic. Part of this is due to this first wave having the largest impact on older persons who reside in nursing homes. Similar to the flu, about 71% of Covid-19 deaths are people over 65. If you or a loved one do not reside in long-term care, chances are that Covid-19 has not yet touched your world, other than being an inconvenience that has forced you to physical distance from others.
A Johns Hopkins model has projected that the US Covid-19 death rate could rise to 3000 people per day, with a total of 135,000 total deaths by August. It is now the end of May and there are already 100,000 dead. If the rate of infection remains steady, the US will easily reach 135,000 or more. Unless the daily death rate starts to decline, the US will likely reach 200,000 dead by August.
There is a very good chance that Covid-19 cases will increase over the summer. People are refusing to physical distance and are flocking to public places. This is giving the virus a chance to spread further.
For various reasons, some people just refuse to believe there is a global pandemic. Perhaps that is because hardly anything bad has happened in their lifetimes. They didn’t live through the Great War. They didn’t see people die from the 1918 flu. They didn’t live on a farm in the dustbowl 1930s or feel the effects of the global financial collapse that led to the Great Depression. They have a vague memory about what their great grandparents told them about WWII. It has become rare to have a child die from a disease rather than the norm to lose at least one or more child. They haven’t had to ration food. Most of them haven’t been sent to Vietnam against their will. Many have had the luxury of delaying adulthood until their 30s. It just is not as terrible as it has been in the past. The first world has had it pretty good. For decades. Why would something bad actually happen now?
Let’s open up the nation, these people say. Covid-19 is over. We beat it so lets get back to work. It turned out that it only affects people who already have 1 foot in the grave. Its just a flu. The economy needs to be protected.
These same people are about to experience difficult times, and unfortunately, they are going to drag the rest of us with them.