A Pandemic Reckoning

Less than 180 days into a worldwide Pandemic, its effect can be measured in numbers, and sadly the numbers tell us the United States leads the world in number of deaths.

As of May 10, the US has reported nearly 81,000 deaths and that is more than double any other country on the planet. This is tragic because “real lives” have been lost.

The Pandemic by the numbers:

If you read my Sports Blog, then you know I track numbers and stats and thereby try to separate emotion from fact.

Of course, historical data is always helpful as we try to predict the future and in some manner, virtually everything is quantifiable. While the US started slow and didn’t report its first death to Coronavirus until March 1 (less than 75 days ago) yet since that time the US ranks #1 in the world with nearly 81,000 deaths; thereafter the UK ranks second with 31,587 deaths, Italy ranks third with 30,395 deaths, Spain ranks fourth with 26,621, while France ranks fifth with 26,310 deaths (note: statistics measured as of May 10, 2020).

Yet beyond the US, UK, Italy, Spain and France, no other country in the world exceeds 11,000 deaths.

In fact, the US has less than 5% of the world’s population yet accounts for nearly 30% of Coronavirus deaths worldwide, and when we take into account the US, UK, Italy, Spain and France, it tells us 5 “western countries” account for 70% of Coronavirus deaths worldwide.

So, what does that tell us? Either the life style of western countries is incredibly vulnerable to Coronavirus (highly unlikely), or western countries have failed to efficiently manage the Pandemic.

How about Asia?

I trust you are curious to know where China ranks inasmuch as they are generally blamed as the place where the Virus started?

Well they rank well down the list with just 4,633 deaths.

Of course most folks unfamiliar with China are apprehensive regarding the credibility of their statistics…(fair enough)…so let’s take a look at other Asian countries such as India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea. Of course China and India are the two most populace countries on the planet with populations of 1.45 Billion and 1.4 Billion people respectively. Meanwhile, the archipelago of Indonesia has a population of 275 Million (4th largest population in the world), Japan has a population of 130 Million (#11), while South Korea has a population of nearly 52 Million (#27).

As it relates to Coronavirus deaths, India reports 2109; Indonesia reports 973; Japan reports 607; and South Korea reports 256.

When combined, those 5 Asian countries have a population of nearly 3.4 Billion people and yet those 5 countries account for just 8,578 deaths. Let’s put that into perspective: the US has a population of 330 Million people, a 10th of the 5 Asian countries cited, and yet the US accounts for nearly 81,000 deaths while 5 of the largest, most densely populated countries on the planet account for less than 8,578? There’s something wrong with that picture.

Whether you believe statistics from China or not, nevertheless the statistics from India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea are undeniable, and all but Indonesia are in extraordinarily close proximity to China: of course, India shares a 2500 mile border with China, while the distance between Seoul and Beijing is less than 600 miles across the Yellow Sea (800 miles by land), while Osaka, Japan is less than 900 miles from Shanghai across the East China Sea.

So, if China is responsible for “letting loose” the Virus in a nefarious way, then India, Japan and Korea should be exceedingly vulnerable due to their proximity, and yet the number of deaths reported in those countries are exceedingly low, which means they are either not susceptible to the Virus (medically unfeasible), or they have done an exceedingly good job at managing the Pandemic.

I spent a good portion of my professional career living and working in Asia Pacific, and it is notable that “country to country” travel throughout Asia is tantamount to “state to state” business travel in the US, so isolating a virus is virtually impossible. So let’s look at Coronavirus deaths in 4 other “key” Asian countries:

  • Philippines…719
  • Malaysia…108
  • Thailand…56
  • Singapore…20

And it might be easy to assume that Afghanistan and Bangladesh being quasi third world countries are therefore more susceptible to Virus spread, but yet they only account for 120 and 228 deaths respectively.

And how about Russia? Well, Russia has a population of 145 Million and yet they account for 1915 deaths. And one last measure: how about Hong Kong with a population of 7.4 Million people and arguably one of the most densely populated cities on the planet? They report just 4 (just 4 deaths)…that’s beyond extraordinary!

At the bottom line:

The “reckoning” tells us the US is leading the world in the shameful statistic of deaths due to Coronavirus.

By the time you read this, the number of US deaths will have increased, and as we track these macabre set of statistics, the US death rate isn’t regressing, rather it is pulling ahead exponentially and that means the US needs to correct course.

I don’t mean to sound flippant, but if this was football, basketball, the US needs to adjust its game plan.

And if the US wants to reopen its economy, then it needs to stop the death toll as a first order of business. Let’s be clear, the US economy must be reopened to ensure we don’t incur a “depression” that exceeds the catastrophe of the “Great Depression”, and that means the US must change its game plan. Yet, the US can’t keep doing the same thing “over and over” and hope for a better result. The US needs to craft a better plan.

Asian countries such as Singapore implemented a coherent and well defined “containment plan” early on and they haven’t equivocated and the results are clear: Singapore only reports 20 lives lost due to the Virus.

So it seems clear, the US would benefit by studying and implementing various Asian models, and in that regard it would seem instead of distancing ourselves from China and other Asian Countries, the US would benefit by sending envoys to China and other “key” Asian countries to learn more clearly how they have been able to mitigate Pandemic deaths…and then implement the Asian models.

While Asian countries have seemingly contained the Virus (the low number of deaths confirm the premise), various Asian countries are implementing methodical plans to “reopen” their economies, meanwhile the US has not contained the Virus (the mounting death toll tells the story) and therefore attempting to reopen the US economy is beyond problematic, in fact it seems reckless.

Of course, various US states can officially declare they are “open for business” but the economy won’t officially “reopen” until the public feels safe: that means the public will determine “when” the economy reoopens. So, the US can either correct course, or suffer the dire consequences, because in a “Reckoning” the Virus doesn’t care!

And when the Virus is finally sequestered and the Pandemic is contained, the US must have a serious “reckoning” as to “just how” the Pandemic ravaged the US more than any other country on the planet.

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