COVID-19 Status Report From Maine in Continuing Lockdown, 05/24/2020.
Posted by Edmund R. Folsom, Esq.
May 24, 2020
Here in Maine, the partial lockdown continues. Flatten-the-curve and slow-the spread have morphed into, until we’re safe. The media are hyping every case blip, cheerleading for continuation ad infinitum, as long as fear can be stirred. We have mission creep with no exit strategy, bleeding out our resources to serve no defined end.
Maine more than triples COVID-19 testing in a week or so and then, suddenly, case numbers spike.
Maine more than tripled its COVID-19 testing capacity over the past week or so. We should expect the number of COVID cases to jump sharply on that basis alone. Maine’s CDC has not told us whether we are using our new capacity to its full extent, but let’s look at what we should expect if we are now testing three times as many people (let alone more than three times as many). In the past 7 days, May 16 through May 23, Maine’s CDC added 410 cases to its COVID-19 case total. During that time, the Maine CDC also logged 239 recoveries. If the increased level of testing yields the same positivity rate we had when we tested 1/3 as many people (and why wouldn’t it?), this week’s 410 positive cases is the equivalent of 19.5 cases per day at our previous testing level (410/3 = 136.66/7 = 19.5) – not nearly as scary as a sudden jump to 58.57 cases per day on average.
CDC informs us fatality rate of COVID-19 far below what we were initially told.
A few days ago, the U.S. CDC posted what it calls Pandemic Planning Scenarios on its website. In those, the CDC provided the following “current best estimates” for the prevalence of asymptomatic cases, for fatality rates for cases with symptoms, and for fatality rates for COVID-19 infections overall:
-Percent of all COVID-19 infections that are asymptomatic: 35%
-Symptomatic case fatality ratio ages 0 – 49: .0005
-Symptomatic case fatality ratio ages 50 – 64: .002.
-Symptomatic case fatality ratio overall: .004
In other words, in the U.S. CDC’s current best estimates, for every 65 COVID-19 cases in which a person has symptoms, there are another 35 cases in which the person has no symptoms. For those under age 50, the fatality rate is 5 people for every 10,000 symptomatic cases. For all COVID-19 infections in those under age 50, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, the fatality rate is .000325, or 3.25 per 10,000. For those age 50-64, the fatality rate is .002, or 20 for every 10,000 symptomatic cases. In this age group, the fatality rate for all COVID-19 infections, both asymptomatic and symptomatic, is .0013, or 13 for every 10,000. For all ages, overall, the CDC’s best estimate fatality rate for confirmed cases is .004 and its best estimate infection fatality rate is .0026. This brings the infection fatality rate much closer to the .001 rate Anthony Fauci stated was likely, in a New England Journal of Medicine Article posted March 26, 2020, than to the higher .01 rate he widely predicted thereafter. Given that Cumberland County, Maine, is currently experiencing new outbreaks in long-term care facilities where all residents and staff are being tested whether symptomatic or not, we should expect a spike in Maine’s numbers right now. In fact, on Thursday, 57 new cases were reported from one Cumberland County facility alone, Cape Memory Care. But we should also acknowledge what the data now clearly establishes — every increase in the number of COVID-19 cases does not signify mass death.
Who are dying in Maine.
Between May 16 and May 23, there were 8 recorded COVID-19 deaths in Maine. Those involved 2 people in their 90’s, 5 people in their 80’s, 1 in his 70’s and 1 in his 40’s. Maine’s CDC continues not to inform us of the prevalence of underlying conditions among the COVID-19 deaths. Of the 78 total COVID deaths that Maine’s CDC has reported over time (they have called back one such death but have not provided sex or age information for that person) all but 2 have been of people age 50 and older, 85.8% of them have been of people age 60 and older, and there have been no deaths of those under age 40. According to the U.S. CDC’s provisional death counts statistics, updated through May 16, Maine recorded the following deaths by category between February 1 and May 16, 2020:
Deaths from all causes – 4,634
Deaths from pneumonia – 364
Deaths with COVID-19 — 70
Deaths from Influenza – 31
Why do men die with COVID-19 in disproportion to women?
Based on numbers cobbled together from reports over time, it looks like an equal number of males and females are represented in the COVID-19 deaths announced day-to-day by Maine’s CDC. Maine’s CDC only reports the numbers of females and males diagnosed with COVID-19, not the number of each who die with it. In most other places, greater numbers of males are listed as COVID-19 deaths, raising the question why more males are dying than females. In the U.S. overall, the split is about 55% males to 45% females. Females make up about 51% of the population in Maine and nationally, but that is not true in the age range in which most COVID-19 deaths occur, age 80+. Because of that, even if the number of COVID-19 deaths for males is equal to that of females, men are dying at a disproportionate rate, because there are simply fewer of them around to die in the age range in which they are dying. Which leads me to a theory of why more men than women are dying in absolute numbers.
Again, there are simply fewer men around in the age range hardest hit by COVID-19. For instance, numbers from July of 2018 indicate that there were 15.27 million males in the U.S., age 70 and up, versus 20.77 million women. That’s a ratio of 1.36 women for every man in that age range. The same data set shows a U.S. population of 4.92 million men age 80 and up versus 7.76 million women. That’s a ratio of 1.577 women for every man age 80 and up. Why then, especially with so many more women around than men in the elderly population, are men dying in absolute numbers greater than women? I posit it’s for the same reason there are so few men left around at that age in the first place. According to the Social Security Administration, the life expectancy at birth of a person born in 1940 (a person who would be age 80 this year) was 70.4 for a male and 76.3 for a female. For those in that cohort who made it to age 65, the life expectancy of the men was 77.7 and the life expectancy of women was 79.7. COVID-19 aside, between a group of 1,000 randomly selected males age 85 and a group of 1,000 randomly selected females age 85, which do you suppose will have more surviving members this time next year? Men in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are simply further past their demographic expiration date than women in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. This biological fact, I suspect, explains much more than lifestyle choices, social factors, or anything else about why more men than women are dying of COVID-19.
As always, the above is for information purposes only. It does not contain legal advice.