What a week it has been. Covid 19, Coronavirus, or whatever you want to call it has officially disrupted life in the United States, Idaho, and now Bear Lake County. School has been moved online or to take home assignments for the next couple of weeks with reevaluation happening during Spring Break. A lot of it is depending on the spread or lack of spread of the disease over the next couple of weeks and the availability of testing. I’ll be honest, right now I predict that unless there are some significant changes we aren’t going back to school after the break.
I have been following the disease since early February watching numbers and statistics come in on a regular basis and have found one site that is the most up to date on what is going on. I check it regularly so here it is so you can check too if you want. www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ It is so quick to update that it has recorded almost 100 new cases in the US in the past 20 minutes.
Now some analysis of numbers for you. In the US there have been 11,689 cases as I am writing this. Our caseload of infection has increased at a rate that is comparable with most other major countries including China and Italy where the majority of deaths have occured. In both instances and in our own, a lack of available testing and not having a quick enough government preventative response (ie quarantine) has caused a certain curve to appear in rates of infection and deaths.
Of course, the actual rate of infection and recovery could be much higher for everyone in the world, the lack of available tests makes it difficult to know exactly how many people got sick and recovered. We probably already have dozens in the valley who are infected but we just don’t know it yet. But what we do know is that world wide, of confirmed cases, over 3% of those infected have died. Primarily those over the age of 60; in fact over the age of 80 the death rate is around 20%.
It is for this reason that quarantine is extremely important. Throughout history, from the Black Death in Europe to the Yellow Fever Epidemics during the Revolution to the Ebola Crisis just a couple of years ago. In each instance quarantine saved lives, the sooner it occured the better. There were entire cities that walled themselves off during the Black Death and had zero fatalities. Washington inoculated and quarantined his men as soon as he realized what was happening so the British wouldn’t take advantage and win the war.
This is why the School Board decided to cancel school and ask everyone to self quarantine. You aren’t required by law to do it, but by doing it you may save lives. Our hospital has only a few limited resources to help those who get sick. If we are all moving around our senior citizens would get sick and up to 20% of them could die; especially if we don’t have the medical facilities to treat them all at once.
I don’t mean to scare you, but you should be wary. Just because your symptoms may be small if you catch it, doesn’t mean that others will be. It has an incubation period of 10 days where you show no symptoms but are contagious. During that time, visiting people can also get sick and spread the disease. You might not die, but grandma and grandpa could. Please travel as little as possible, stay home, and take this time to be with your family. Unless you absolutely have to travel or work, consider taking some time off if you can and keep you, your family, and everyone in the valley safe and healthy.
Charles Horikami is a Social Studies Teacher at BLMS, and the Legislative District 32 Chair for the Idaho State Republican Party, and a member of the Montpelier City Council. The views expressed are not representative of the BLSD, the City of Montpelier, or of the Idaho State Republican Party. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and welcomes all comments and critiques.