Pradeep Arumugham to NC: Learn from Georgia’s COVID-19 mistakes

Pradeep Arumugham 5/30/2020 COVID 19 UPDATE

Now that we are in Phase II – it is prudent to look at Georgia numbers again. If you remember a few weeks ago Georgia changed the way they reported cases.

NC reports cases in 2 ways, one as the positive cases when the report comes in and as positive cases according to date when it was performed.

Georgia switched from positive cases when reports come in to positive cases according to date it was performed. We can argue whether this was politics or not, but the sad fact is that it prevented people from seeing whether a spike was happening or not with the opening.

Let me explain again how this was done.

If you had a hundred test results come back positive today, the majority of them would have been performed in the last two weeks. What Georgia did was distribute the 100 test results to the last two weeks. Which means let’s say there were 5 quick test results resulted on the same day, then Georgia reported only 5 new cases that day which means when you draw the graph it will always look like it is plummeting. That gives people that false sense of security.

At the time they made this change, many here observed along with me that this “manipulation” will not last and the data will shine through but delayed by a few weeks. Now the data is shining through.

April 24, 2020, Georgia reopened. Cases continued to drop, which it should because people have just started relaxing social distancing and the virus has a 2-14 day incubation period. Two weeks later, May 8, new cases start climbing. You can clearly see on the graph.

What can we in NC learn and/or expect?

NC went to phase 1 May 8. If we follow Georgia, May 22 new cases should start going up, BUT NC reports cases according to when it is reported, so I suspect due to test result delay of 2-7 days, our numbers should go up this week.

In fact for the last two days, we have reported over a thousand cases each day. I suspect NC spike will not be as bad as Georgia because our opening is a lot slower.

What can we do about it?

Everyone wants the state to reopen. The only difference between the reopen NC and the stay home NC people is the speed at which we open.

This is my advice. If you want to open then you have to take extra precautions. Everyone should wear a mask, maintain social distancing as much as possible, wash as much as possible.

When I go out I wear a mask, you should too. Have I missed occasionally? Yes I have, but it is becoming rarer and rarer that I forget. This should become a habit.

COPD and asthma patients can still wear a mask. An n95 may be harder for them to use but not the regular mask. It is not cool not to wear a mask. Neither is it fear that makes one wear a mask. The person wearing a mask is trying to protect you. The person not wearing a mask is sending a message that they do not care.

I wear a mask and I have taken care of diagnosed COVID 19 patients. Unless you have taken care of them then you have no right to tell us we are afraid.

NC new cases are climbing. The percent positive tests as reported by NCDHHS is climbing. This means that the increased cases are not just due to increased testing. This could very well be due to increased case transmission.

NC new deaths are climbing slightly. This is concerning. You can’t cheat death.

NC hospitalizations are climbing. I suspect deaths will start climbing in 1-2 weeks.

Overall NC, since reopening, is not doing too well. A rise in case numbers is expected but the severity of the rise is what we should watch for. Very few people are wearing masks and many refuse to wear it. This will increase transmission rates.

I suspect what benefit we had received from prior social distancing is being rapidly reduced because of this.

If you want to continue opening NC please wear a mask as a beginning.

PS: I took a week long break from these updates to refresh myself (I felt like I was getting ready to explode).

Statistics

Internationally – total confirmed cases 6,095,260. Deaths 369,789 Gives a death rate of 6.06%. That is 60 people out of 1000 confirmed cases died with this virus.

United States – total cases 1,771,124 Deaths 103,815 Gives a death rate of 5.86%%. That is 58.6 out of 1000 confirmed cases died with this virus.

North Carolina – total cases 27,673 Death 877. Gives a death rate of 3.17%. That is 31.7 out of 1000 confirmed cases died with this virus. 638 hospitalizations.

Surrounding counties.
  • Lenoir – total cases 215 death 7
  • Jones – total cases 26 death 3
  • Greene – total cases 77 death 2
  • Pitt – total cases 295 death 2
  • Onslow – total cases 108 death 2
  • Beaufort- total cases 34 death 0
  • Bertie – total cases 122 death 4
  • Craven – total cases 204 death 5
  • Carteret – total cases 35 death 3
  • Wayne – total cases 1112 death 20
  • Duplin – total cases 794 death 12
  • Forsyth – total cases 1253 death 11
  • Nash – total cases 201 death 4
  • Wilson – total cases 347 death 10

Dr. Pradeep Arumugham is a Pitt County cardiologist and faculty member at East Carolina University.

May 31st, 2020 by
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