While it’s far more pleasant to bring you encouraging fact-based news, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of it yesterday. To wit, as a result of the continuing coronavirus surge in New York and New Jersey, the U.S. just surpassed China and Italy to take the dubious honor of the global coronavirus case lead.
Then, just to depress us a little more, that downward Illinois trend took a bit of a blow with 683 newly reported cases. Given our consistent statistical math application, that’s a 37 percent new case increase over the previous day.
But the icing on the COVID-19 cake had to be Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s press conference where she announced she foresaw 40,000 Chicago hospitalizations in “the next few weeks,” further emphasizing, “Not 40,000 cases, but 40,000 people who require acute care in a hospital setting.”
It’s almost as if George R. R. Martin has taken over writing those press releases. What’s next Mayor? Fire breathing dragons trashing Wicker Park?
Short of throwing in the towel and running around the block naked with “The End is Near” scrawled in fluorescent pink Sharpie on your stomach, what’s a news story shell-shocked “shelter-in-place” coronavirus recluse supposed to do?
I’m certainly glad you asked that question, because the I would suggest starting with applying even more critical thinking. So, let’s do our damndest to summon up our inner Mr. Spock and employ a little of that legendary Vulcan logic to our current situation.
And we’ll start with those U.S. numbers (I’ll be a little more careful today). As of 7:38 a.m., according to the website Worldodometers.info:
New York 38,977
New Jersey 6,876
So, New York and New Jersey account for 53.5 percent of our national cases and, despite the Second City Mayor’s pronouncement, statistically, no other state is headed in that direction anytime soon. Could that change? Of course it could, but it remains highly unlikely at this point.
Despite the blow New York City has been dealt, the Chicago Tribune just reported that Big Apple hospital beds remain available! That may not be the case for long, but that’s still a good sign. The City is fervently working to expand that capacity as we speak.
And while our national coronavirus mortality rate sits at 1.5 percent, New York comes in at 1.2 percent, which is 20 percent better.
Now, for those illuminating Illinois numbers!
Date Total Cases % Increase
3/19 422 46.5 percent
3/20 585 37 percent
3/21 753 29 percent
3/22 1,049 39 percent
3/23 1,285 28 percent
3/24 1,535 22.5 percent
3/25 1,855 21.5 percent
3/26 2,538 37 percent
With 26 deaths, the Illinois mortality rate remains at 1 percent, 50 percent better than the national average.
No one wanted to see that 37 percent number rear its ugly head, but the silver lining there is, we haven’t returned to the daily doubling case rate days of early March. Furthermore, we endured a similar blip on March 22nd that was likely the result of more widespread testing. That could certainly be the case here, too.
So, let’s all take a deep breath and see what happens over the next two-to-three days before we proceed with the whole naked running and scrawling thing.
With all that entered into the record, let’s move on to our pièce de résistance, Ms. Lightfoot’s peculiar press statement, because as one attending reporter exclaimed, “That’s insane,” and it is!
To test that 40,000 possibility, the first thing we have to do is determine what percent of coronavirus sufferers are hospitalized. Using the 3,612 “serious or critical” current Italian cases, their hospitalization rate would appear to be 6 percent.
But then my municipal mathematical expert says our local governments are employing a worst-case 15 percent hospitalization rate for planning purposes. So, let’s go with the more difficult number! Even then, in order to reach that 40,000 occupied hospital bed mark, 265,518 Chicagoans will have to develop the disease – within the next three weeks!
That’s three times the number of current countrywide cases.
But wait! There’s more! Remember! Mayor Lightfoot said, “Not 40,000 cases, but 40,000 people who require acute care in a hospital setting,” And hospitals generally define “acute care” as the ICU, cardiac care units, and similar serious settings.
To that end, the CDC released figures this morning that, while the data is still incomplete, would indicate the U.S. ICU care percentage for hospitalized coronavirus folks, aged 0 to 64, is 20 percent. That means for Lightfoot’s macabre “dream” to come true, 1.3 million total Second City dwellers would have to be infected in the next three to four weeks.
That absurd number absolutely dwarfs the current 553,000 worldwide coronavirus cases that took months to reach. My best guess is, after this week’s lakefront social distrancing failure debacle, the Mayor is trying to terrify Chicagoan into staying home. But that ain’t the way to do it. Again, if you leave your constituency with no hope, then why should they bother with further precautions?
To that end, it is truly troubling to read the increasing number of Facebook posts from folks who write their children are crying at news reports, they’re feeling completely hopeless, while other are falling into a deep depression.
Then there are the readers who tell me my Roving Reports are the only thing that’s keeping them sane. While I love the complement, and I will do my best to continue to lend a journalistic hand, that’s a wee bit more responsibility than this middle-school-minded writer is accustomed to.
I’ve been advising those who reach out to me to take control of what you can control and let go of what you can’t.
I know it’s not easy, but you can control your home environment and continue to practice safe social distance when you do have to go out. Then, TURN OFF THE TV! News stations sow fear by bringing you the worst-case scenarios because they get ratings. It’s not reality by any stretch.
My favorite mathematical friend asked me if I watched Mayor Lightfoot’s press conference, a question which solicited a resounding, “No!” I choose NOT to further depress myself and I would encourage you to do the same. If you find yourself reaching a breaking point, I would be happy to recommend a therapist who’s quite good with phone sessions. Please PM me if you’re interested. I’m sure your friends will have similar recommendations.
Many of you know I’m truly enjoying the top 50 all-time jazz albums. I’ve made it to number 24, John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps,’ and I promise that you can’t get depressed listening to Trane!
If you promise to be good, go ahead and turn on the TV and avail yourself of a slew of stellar Netflix standup specials which include, but aren’t nearly limited to:
- Marc Maron
- Dave Chappelle
- Tom Segura
- Nikki Glaser (bleepin’ hilarious, but don’t let the kids watch)
- Taylor Tomlinson
- Gabriel Iglesias
- Tom Papa
- Katherine Ryan (my favorite!)
- Bill Burr
and so many more! It’s hard to be depressed when your laughing. Then, when you’re done, take a long walk!
As an avid military historian, I’m watching Netflix’ ‘World War II in Color!’ Not only is it an amazingly thorough documentary series, but compared to what those European and Asian folks had to go through fighting fascism, we still have it pretty good.
Lastly, in deference to the folks who are truly having difficulty with this new reality, please, no more negative comments on my Roving Reports. I don’t mind questions, the general conversation, I appreciate readers who keep me honest, and I love it when you beat me to the accurate math punch.
But if you feel the need to be negative and insist we’re all gonna die tomorrow, go ahead and issue your own post, but I will no longer allow that kind of coat-tailing on mine. I appreciate your understanding.
So, yesterday, the news wasn’t the best. Let’s not let that bump in an already bumpy road affect our efforts to contain the coronavirus in the least. As always, keep up the good work!