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Can Coronavirus be Defeated without Wrecking the Economy?

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Robyn Openshaw

Robyn Openshaw

by Robyn Openshaw, GreenSmoothieGirl.com

Editor’s Note:  Health Advocate Robin Openshaw wrote this letter to Summit County, Utah officials .  It is republished with permission.

Dear Summit County Decision Makers,

You’ve shut down most of our 7,014 businesses.1

You closed all 200 businesses in beautiful, historic Park City, and most of 7,014 companies registered in the county.

My friends who own a yoga studio, a medical clinic, a car wash, a ski shop, a mechanic shop, and a restaurant, are all sitting at home, terrified, wondering how they’ll buy food and pay the bills, in the next 5 weeks and beyond.

You, Summit County’s Health Officer Richard Bullough, PhD and council members, will always have the dubious distinction as the people accountable for making Park City a Depression-devastated ghost town.

Of course, you’re in good company. In fact, hundreds of other counties made foolish decisions that will affect the long-term legacy of their leaders, and the future of business in those counties, as well.

Governors Cuomo of New York2 and Newsom of California3 shut down most commerce and sentenced tens of millions to long-term unemployment and uncertainty, around the same time you did.

Cuomo is now admitting his 2-month shut down of New York was an overreaction, and a bad idea.4

On Tuesday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent 1.4 billion of the world’s most vulnerable people home for 21 days — their meager sources of income gone — telling them, “Forget what it feels like to leave your homes.”5

And that’s not all: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wins the prize on March 26 for sentencing 18.79 million people in the Los Angeles area for the longest quarantine of anyone, worldwide. Two full months of ordered isolation — all due to 650 cases of COVID19 (and no recorded deaths) on that date.6

A great deal of information has come out in the past week that shows that those leaders who destroyed our economy will find themselves on the wrong side of history.7

Your decision will not only be devastating to your political legacy; it is already devastating to thousands of Summit County businesses who have had to close their doors, and thousands of people jobless.

You were an “early adopter” of the quarantine approach to combating this virus; an early adopter in creating mass layoffs and now-defunct businesses.

Let me review some data points, each of which would have been easy to learn before your knee-jerk reaction destroyed many lives for the indefinite future.

1. I was in the Park City Hospital on March 25, the very hour that KSL reported our county had an outbreak the proportions of New York City (per capita)  — and 20 times more infected, per capita, than Salt Lake City.8

Did you contact our two hospitals in the county, to learn that not only were they not full of COVID19 patients–they didn’t actually have any?

Despite the sensational headline, there wasn’t a single patient in the ER. Not in the ER waiting room, and not in the general hospital waiting room, either. Where was the pandemonium, the overcrowded E.R., the huge outbreak? We are a small county, and besides the tiny Heber hospital, there is no other hospital besides Park City.

The eight hospital employees I interacted with during the hour I spent trying to get my simple procedure done (all of them wearing elaborate helmets and face shields) passed me from the lab, to the E.R., to the lab again. With the Red Cross shut down nationwide, I just medically needed to remove some of my iron-rich blood.

I finally left the hospital without the simple treatment I needed (this was actually my second trip there in a week, with the same results, and the same completely empty waiting rooms). I headed to Heber, only to find the ER in Heber — Summit County’s other hospital — also completely empty.

The KSL story about the “outbreak” in Park City being the same, per capita, as New York City, released by KSL, was published, strangely, the same day that KSL also published a story that only 348 cases total have been diagnosed in the entire state of Utah, and that new diagnoses were now decreasing.9

If Summit County, with its completely empty ICU’s and ER’s, had the same per-capita infection rate as New York City — I have to wonder if media reporting in New York City is also inflated.

While it is clear that intensive medicine is not built and staffed for the high point of an outbreak in densely populated cities with a high number of elderly, the media COVID19 media blitz is unprecedented in history, and has taken on epidemic hysteria worse than the virus itself (which seems to be on the decline now, worldwide, with a kill rate of not even 1% of 1% of the estimated 2.2 million dead).10,11

For this, you destroyed our county’s economy, and likely put thousands of businesses into bankruptcy. You’ve put thousands of people out of work indefinitely.

Two Stories Run On KSL The Same Day

2. China has released its statistics, dramatically downgrading the death rate from its COVID19 outbreak. This study (pending peer review) estimates the death rate of those contracting the virus — in a country where most people smoke, and the air quality is terrible — to be between 0.04 to 0.12.12 This is 33 times lower than the media headlines of up 4 percent that dominated panic-spreading headlines for weeks.

That means the highest death rate the COVID19 virus could have achieved (touted in over 1.5 billion media stories to be extremely deadly) is .12% — and most of that small number of fatalities were people who had already outlived China’s average age.

Here in the U.S., it is simple math that any epidemiologist should know, that the only people being tracked as the outbreak happens are the ones who were tested.13 But as with every pandemic since pandemics have been studied, there are 10 to 20 times more infected people who were never tested. And, every one of them is a survivor. They must be factored into the mortality statistics.

While China’s outbreak was contained, and data was readily available that the death rate was orders of magnitude lower than the media reported, you, Summit County, sentenced thousands of the businesses you ordered to close into extinction.14 (When you extended the existing 10-day order to May 1 — adding another 5 weeks of unemployment and shutdown.)

When those numbers are estimated and factored in, it is becoming clear that U.S. statistics will be likely two-tenths of one percent, at most. (No more deadly than this year’s flu, which is also 0.02%.)

3A. Emerging evidence shows that COVID19 may not be significantly more communicable than other infectious illnesses, either.15 Data is emerging that up to 80 percent false positives result in some test groups.16

Deborah Birx, MD, global health official, admitted 16 hours ago that the outbreak was orders of magnitude lower than predicted, and that the vast majority of ER’s and ventilators sit unused, all over the world.17

3B. A study from Iceland shows that about 50 percent of positive COVID19 cases have no symptoms, and 50 percent show moderate cold symptoms.18

3C. Washington State, in the week Summit County expanded our quarantine and extended it by 5 weeks, showed that of over 30,000 COVID19 tests, only 7% were positive!19 In fact, Washington State intel shows that the death rate, based on real data, is about 0.3. Again, orders of magnitude lower than news media reports.

4. Both South Korea and China have completed the typical “bell curve” of the outbreak.20 Most days in the last week, both countries have reported 0 new cases. (I work with a manufacturing company in the Wuhan, and they worked straight through the outbreak–so people saying that China shut its economy down, and that’s how they contained their outbreak, are wrong.) This is what the bell curve of the epidemic looks like for China and South Korea, neither of whom shut down their economies, but rather, employed reasonable and rational containment strategies:

Unlike Bullough and council members, who inflicted great harm on my business and many others, South Korea achieved total containment of this virus without destroying the livelihood of millions of people.21 Containment strategies are important, but decisions based on bad data are going to destroy Summit County.

5. In the same week you ordered a death sentence for thousands of Summit County small businesses, the epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, whose projection of 2.2 million dead worldwide from the virus, revised his estimate to less than one-tenth of the original estimate.22

Currently only slightly more than 1 percent of his newly revised 200,000 fatality prediction has taken place worldwide–with most, if not all, countries, on the downside of the bell curve that every virus outbreak follows. It appears that, again, the chaos in terms of human life created by the pandemic may be multiple orders of magnitude smaller than Ferguson predicted and the media and social media spread.

But the actions of short-sighted leaders have put many nations of the world into what looks to be a depression not seen since the 1930’s (again, with the help of the news media).

6. In Italy, over 99 percent of the fatalities were already ill with other pre-existing conditions. This virus has shown that it has serious consequences for very few people who are even reasonably healthy and below the age of 60. A more rational containment strategy, for this and any future outbreaks of other viruses, would be to quarantine those who are vulnerable and elderly, allowing the vast majority (the healthy) to continue to work, to avoid the economic catastrophe we now find ourselves in.

South Korea (and even China, mostly) did not see it as a viable option to send their people home, without work and a means to provide food, shelter, medications, and other necessities–like the officials in my county have. Neil Ferguson and others who made foolish false predictions, and created economic chaos with knee-jerk reactions, will inevitably give the economic shutdown credit for the small numbers in the death toll. The evidence, however, suggests otherwise.

There are dozens of excellent containment strategies that have been employed, or could have been employed, that did not destroy our livelihoods.

The information that the virus affects 99% or more elderly and immune-compromised was available in the very early stages of the outbreak.23

7. The Wall Street Journal, one day before Summit County shut down all “non-essential” businesses till May 1, explained the epidemiological evidence that our own Summit County Health Officer Richard C. Bullough, PhD seems to have missed.13 Again, the evidence is deeply flawed, because the fatality statistics are based on only those who have been tested–not the vastly higher number (of 100% survivors) who were not tested.

Stanford’s Dr. John Ioannidis, MD (professor of medicine, biomedical data science, statistics, epidemiology and population health) said in the Daily Wire that “we are making seismic decisions” based on “utterly unreliable data.”24 The consequences will be profound. They already are, Summit County (and hundreds of others nationwide)–and the highly credentialed Dr. Ioannidis says it’s clear municipal, state, and country leaders are “severely overreacting.”

Unlike Bullough and council members in Summit County, who inflicted great harm on thousands of businesses, South Korea achieved total containment of this virus without destroying the livelihood of millions of people. Containment strategies are important, but knee-jerk reactions based on bad data are going to destroy Summit County.

Summit County Officials (and others all over North America): Please reverse your position and allow the people and businesses to return to work immediately. For every day that our businesses remain closed, many more will be unable to unopen. Many politicians and bureaucrats have made mistakes. But your mistakes have cost families and everyone who lives in Park City dearly, and every day your orders based on false information stand, the worse this gets for all of us in this community.

Utah’s Governor Herbert: Please get involved, be courageous, and please do not allow municipal economic shut-downs in our state based on deeply flawed data and unwarranted media and community hysteria.

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Robyn Openshaw is a 16-time author; Park City, Utah resident; and owner of two companies. 

Special thanks to Caroline Lowman, Kira Hunter, and Dr. Jerry Bailey II in data gathering, fact checking, and editing.

References

  1. Roberts, Alyssa. “Summit County Orders Residents to Stay at Home until May 1.” KJZZ, KJZZ News, 25 Mar. 2020, kjzz.com/news/local/summit-county-orders-residents-to-stay-at-home.
  2. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Sentences New Yorkers to Mass Unemployment
    1. Stracqualursi, Veronica. “Cuomo Orders All Nonessential New York Workers to Stay Home.” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Mar. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/03/20/politics/new-york-workforce-stay-home/index.html.
  3. California Gov. Newsom Sentences Californians To Mass Unemployment
    1. Karimi, Faith. “California Orders Its Nearly 40 Million Residents to Stay Home to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus.” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Mar. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/03/19/us/california-coronavirus-stay-home-order/index.html.
  4. Phillips, Morgan. “Cuomo: Not Sure If Closing All Businesses, Keeping Everyone Home Was ‘the Best Public Health Strategy’.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 26 Mar. 2020, www.foxnews.com/us/cuomo-closing-all-businesses-keeping-everyone-home-not-best-public-health-strategy.
  5. Independent UK reports Indian Prime Minister Sentences 1.4 Billion to 21 Day House Arrest
    1. Withnall, Adam. “India to Go into Nationwide Lockdown.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 24 Mar. 2020, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-coronavirus-lockdown-modi-speech-cases-update-news-a9421491.html.
  6. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warns of mass death, condemns ‘false hope,’ and tells us his city will be on lockdown for another 2 months — and to ‘be prepared for longer’
    1. Davis, Charles. “Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Warns of Mass Death, Condemns ‘False Hope,’ and Tells Us His City Will Be on Lockdown for Another 2 Months – and to ‘Be Prepared for Longer’.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 25 Mar. 2020, www.businessinsider.com/covid-19-los-angeles-to-shelter-in-place-for-months-2020-3?fbclid=IwAR28DyMr-QixCziEYu-DOV8D24LsXnx9lpFVGmUrW9nE-5tmxLsbfx2noYI.
  7. Editorial Board. “Opinion | The Coronavirus Pandemic May Mark a Decline in U.S. Leadership.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 23 Mar. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/the-coronavirus-pandemic-may-mark-a-decline-in-us-leadership/2020/03/23/76d1fe8c-6d28-11ea-b148-e4ce3fbd85b5_story.html.
  8. Mar. 25 KSL Story Reporting 348
    1. Bennett, Lauren. “Summit County Issues Stay-at-Home Order amid COVID-19 Outbreak.” KSL.com, KSL News, 25 Mar. 2020, www.ksl.com/article/46734723/summit-county-issues-stay-at-home-order-amid-covid-19-outbreak.
  9. Summit County Closes Virtually All Businesses On The Same Day KSL Reports Only 348 Cases Statewide:
    1. Williams, Carter. “COVID-19 Cases Climb to 348 in Utah, but There’s a Slowdown in Percentage Growth.” KSL.com, KSL News, 25 Mar. 2020, www.ksl.com/article/46734584/covid-19-cases-climb-to-348-in-utah-but-theres-a-slowdown-in-percentage-growth.
  10. United Nations. “China Shows COVID-19 Coronavirus Can Be ‘Stopped in Its Tracks’ | UN News.” UN News, United Nations, 16 Mar. 2020, news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059502.
  11. Ellyatt, Holly. “Italy’s Death Toll Rises above 7,000 – but the Number of New Cases Declines for the 4th Day in a Row.” CNBC, CNBC, 26 Mar. 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/03/26/italys-new-coronavirus-cases-declines-for-4th-day-in-a-row.html.
  12. Not Yet Peer Reviewed Review of Wuhan COVID19 Outbreak Death Statistics
    1. Mizumoto, Kenji, et al. “Early Epidemiological Assessment of the Transmission Potential and Virulence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan City: China, January-February, 2020.” MedRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1 Jan. 2020, www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.12.20022434v2?fbclid=IwAR0wlqXD1b4-DXJ1w_FFolMPWUx4o3A_fBFpSfr5tqBTUbM80TJ9xqxtqXY.
  13. Wall Street Journal Explains Basic Pandemic Math — Don’t Count The Fatalities Until You Estimate The Infected Who Weren’t Tested!
    1. Bendavid, Eran, and Jay Bhattacharya. “Opinion | Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say?” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 24 Mar. 2020, www.wsj.com/articles/is-the-coronavirus-as-deadly-as-they-say-11585088464?fbclid=IwAR2VNKLzL0sXqFJ3he3Y3h6GHQNHJgWDk-r3bHqbPUDMHVG-J0g2xrZKjgM.
  14. Not Yet Peer Reviewed Review of Wuhan COVID19 Outbreak Death Statistics
    1. Mizumoto, Kenji, et al. “Early Epidemiological Assessment of the Transmission Potential and Virulence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan City: China, January-February, 2020.” MedRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1 Jan. 2020, www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.12.20022434v2?fbclid=IwAR0wlqXD1b4-DXJ1w_FFolMPWUx4o3A_fBFpSfr5tqBTUbM80TJ9xqxtqXY.
  15. COVID19 is also not significantly more communicable than other infectious illnesses
    1. Mizumoto, Kenji, et al. “Early Epidemiological Assessment of the Transmission Potential and Virulence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan City: China, January-February, 2020.” MedRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1 Jan. 2020, www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.12.20022434v2?fbclid=IwAR0wlqXD1b4-DXJ1w_FFolMPWUx4o3A_fBFpSfr5tqBTUbM80TJ9xqxtqXY.
  16. 80% False Positive COVID19 Test Results for Test Subjects Living With COVID19 Patients
    1. Mizumoto, Kenji, et al. “Early Epidemiological Assessment of the Transmission Potential and Virulence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan City: China, January-February, 2020.” MedRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1 Jan. 2020, www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.12.20022434v2?fbclid=IwAR0wlqXD1b4-DXJ1w_FFolMPWUx4o3A_fBFpSfr5tqBTUbM80TJ9xqxtqXY.
  17. BlazeTv. “Dr. Birx Admits Initial COVID Predictions Were Extreme.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 Mar. 2020, www.youtube.com/.
  18. Iceland Finds 50% of COVID19 Positive Cases Have No Symptoms; 50% Have Only Moderate Cold Symptoms
    1. Shahan, Zachary. “Iceland Is Doing Science – ~50% of People with COVID-19 Not Showing Symptoms, ~50% Have Very Moderate Cold Symptoms [UPDATED].” CleanTechnica, 25 Mar. 2020, cleantechnica.com/2020/03/21/iceland-is-doing-science-50-of-people-with-covid-19-not-showing-symptoms-50-have-very-moderate-cold-symptoms/amp/.
  19. Washington State’s 30,000 COVID19 Tests Are Only 7% Positive (and 0.03% Fatalities)
    1. “2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19).” Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Department of Health, 26 Mar. 2020, www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus.
  20. Bell Curve for South Korea and China
    1. Durden, Tyler. “COVID-19 – Evidence Over Hysteria.” Zero Hedge, Zero Hedge, 21 Mar. 2020, www.zerohedge.com/health/covid-19-evidence-over-hysteria?fbclid=IwAR0lJ_YY5OYKWmAgX26oTwkQd0jZo1aZvApzBlfDShXfVScR-3ruQMoeQgQ.
  21. NormileMar, Dennis, et al. “Coronavirus Cases Have Dropped Sharply in South Korea. What’s the Secret to Its Success?” Science, AAAS, 18 Mar. 2020, www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/coronavirus-cases-have-dropped-sharply-south-korea-whats-secret-its-success?fbclid=IwAR14bSyKZbDpidroRMrBqiE1NU6aAM60gx6BUhdjDiM7TuqplyI8NFgBff4.
  22. Neil Ferguson revised his estimate to less than one-tenth of the original estimate
    1. Prestigiacomo, Amanda. “Epidemiologist Behind Highly-Cited Coronavirus Model Drastically Downgrades Projection.” The Daily Wire, The Daily Wire, 26 Mar. 2020, www.dailywire.com/news/epidemiologist-behind-highly-cited-coronavirus-model-admits-he-was-wrong-drastically-revises-model/.
  23. Ebhardt, Tommaso, et al. “99% Of Those Who Died From Virus Had Other Illness, Italy Says.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 18 Mar. 2020, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-18/99-of-those-who-died-from-virus-had-other-illness-italy-says?fbclid=IwAR0n22A8q162hR5xN09DT0aZHSc5yF6e_4W3K2iaJ-BV3AYwzY23R1DHs2Y.
  24. Barrett, James. “Stanford Professor: Data Indicates We’re Severely Overreacting To Coronavirus.” The Daily Wire, The Daily Wire, 18 Mar. 2020, www.dailywire.com/news/stanford-professor-data-indicates-were-overreacting-to-coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR2lhQXmw_Z-XJKFO8S0sFDyI4SevnA0E7qinVykCUX83chzgH1ROPor-Rg.

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