First, I appreciate the tremendous response to this week’s stories on IR Guardian/InsideVero. Obviously, we all share a great deal of concern over the rapid acceleration of COVID-19 coronavirus cases here in Indian River County. My headline from three days ago announced we were approaching 500 positive cases. Well, today we have already passed 650 on our way to 700, possibly by tomorrow! Anyone not taking this seriously proceeds at their own peril.
Several comments and questions have come up regarding masks and recovery rates.
Several commenters have asserted that no mask guarantees protection against the virus and that some masks are worthless as a preventative. That seems like an argument used by people who do not wear masks. The overwhelming evidence is that any kind of face covering is better than no face covering. All the data forwarded in those posts is great if you are doing a consumer comparison of different mask options, but it misses the point – in a highly contagious environment with a disease that attacks the lungs and is transmitted by breathing, a mask may be the only defense you have. Yes, social distancing, keeping your hands away from your face and washing your hands thoroughly are also important, but if you go to Publix without a mask, you are distancing yourself from the most effective way to keep you and your family safe (as well as your fellow citizens in Publix). Here is one of many articles available on the science of face masks. (Click here). Don’t rely on someone’s opinion on social media.
One question some people have is why do we have so many cases and so few deaths (650 cases, 16 deaths)? That is a false equivalency. The true measurement is “outcomes” – the number who have had the virus and recovered from it versus the number who have died. In most cases, the first symptoms appear between 5-13 days. Estimates from the time it is contracted until recovery can be as little as another two weeks. The time it takes for serious cases that result in death also varies, but one estimate is about ten weeks. Those numbers are estimates only and subject to more factual scrutiny, but here is the bottom line as it pertains to our community:
March cases = 33
April cases = 68
May cases = 29
June cases = 318 so far based on Florida DOH numbers
If we look at Florida cases as a whole, as of today we have had 141,075 cases, of which 115,322 are still active. The difference is outcomes, in other words 25,753 (total cases minus the number still active) have either recovered or died, based on those numbers. We know 3,419 have died, which is about 13.3 percent of outcomes. (Check this out for yourself by going to the Worldometer chart at click here.) We do not know the number of outcomes here in Indian River County.
Based on the Florida inferred outcomes, one cannot compare the total number of deaths as a percentage of the total number of infections. Most people recover. The largest percentage of new coronavirus cases in our county have occurred within the past three weeks, but the only way we can know how many people today are walking around with the virus is large scale testing. Without full scale testing, we will just have to wait two more weeks and hope for the best.