If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Compiled from Rep. Frank’s newsletter
WICHITA FALLS—Rep. James Frank made a comment that it appeared COVID-19 was not going to be as deadly as feared earlier at a meeting here last month.
“The best estimates a month ago of US deaths by Covid-19 were between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 if significant steps were not taken,” he said. “They are now between 100,000 and 240,000.”
After some people took significant exception to his views, he shared some additional thoughts about the important topic in a newsletter.
“The reasons that the estimated deaths have come down so fast are important to understand as they are only current estimates and can go back up if we make the wrong decisions going forward.
“There are three main reasons for this drastic drop:
“Social distancing is working to slow the spread. One only need look at the hotspots of Covid-19 around to world to see places that were late to start social distancing (often through no fault of their own, but simply not knowing the risks in time).
“The mortality rate in the US is lower than we feared. Because this was an unknown virus and there was no testing available, it was impossible to accurately assess the mortality rate. The original reported mortality rates coming from some countries were between 5-10%, indicating an incredibly high mortality rate for a virus that would likely spread throughout the world. While researchers, doctors and leaders all hoped that the mortality rate was artificially high due to the lack of testing, that could not be known for sure until testing came online. It is also important to note the relation of the mortality rate to our medical preparedness and capacity (see #3 below).
“Medical preparedness and capacity. Because Covid-19 has serious effects on the elderly and those with other pre-existing conditions, many will need hospitalization and/or intensive care in order to survive. Slowing the spread and making sure our hospitals remain at or below capacity is critical to maintaining a mortality rate close to or below 1%. If capacity is overwhelmed for any reason, (lack of equipment, PPE or physicians) then future mortality rates will head significantly higher.
“While the lower estimated death toll is indeed a cause for celebration, it is not a cause to significantly change what is working.
“The need for some type of social distancing will likely be with us for 12-18 months based on every report I have read. In fact, I would beg people to stop saying that we simply need to hunker down for two to three weeks and this whole thing will be over. That does not line up with any of the scientific studies on bending the curve. In fact, if we were to suddenly remove all social distancing practices, we would almost assuredly see deaths in the US rise dramatically.
“So where does this leave us going forward? As a society, we will need to decide how much social distancing we are willing to live with for the next 12-18 months and what we will not.
“Here are just some of the choices we will need to make:
“Will kids continue to remain out of school for the next 12-18 months to keep from having another spike of Covid-19?
“Will non-essential workers remain unemployed for the next 12-18 months? While I am on this, can we please get rid of the word “non-essential” employee? Non-essential employee is a lot like the joke about minor surgery. It’s not minor if it’s your surgery.
“Will places of worship be asked/forced to shut down in-person meetings and services for 12-18 months?
“These are all very uncomfortable questions, but unless a vaccine or successful treatment is discovered before then, these are questions that we will have to address.”