COVID in KY: What do these numbers mean?

By Heather Walton

I examined the statistics for Kentucky on the CDC’s death statistics and made some observations from the following data:

This chart is part of the data found at https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Weekly-Counts-of-Deaths-by-State-and-Select-Causes/muzy-jte6/data

1. I calculated the actual Kentucky deaths from week 15 to week 42 of 2019 and 2020, because that period reflects the beginning of the COVID deaths and allows for enough time to have passed that the data for 2020 should be complete. In doing so, I got these numbers for Kentucky: 2019: 25,209 total deaths; 2020: 27,744 total deaths. That means 2,535 more deaths for Kentucky during that period, accounting for about 93 deaths per week. That could be statistically significant, but we do need to control for other factors.

2. I calculated the deaths by natural causes from the same periods and for 2019, there were 22,933, and for 2020, there were 24,919. This means there were 1,926 more deaths by natural causes, which brings the above number to 71 deaths per week, 22 less weekly than the total. This means there were 2,276 unnatural deaths for that period in 2019, and 2,825 unnatural deaths in 2020.

It is important to investigate the effects of the pandemic and its mitigation measures on unnatural deaths, because causation and/or correlation there could be evidence that lockdowns are at least partially counterproductive. Also, if you make the case that civil unrest is unrelated to the lockdowns, then those figures should be considered independently. And if you make the case that lockdowns are causal, at least partially, to civil unrest, then the cure could be partially responsible for continuing cases and deaths due to the virus.

3. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and World Population Review, the population of KY increased by 32,017 between July 2019 and the present, which is a .35% increase. We should expect rising death rates with rising population, and we should expect the death rates to outnumber the population growth because of the aging population.

4. According to scholarly research, mortality has been disproportionate in skilled nursing facilities, with around 34% of the deaths occurring in nursing homes. In fact, Dr. Steven Stack said during the November 30 Governor’s briefing that two thirds of Kentucky COVID deaths have been in nursing homes. This, of course, is tragic, but does not support lockdowns; it may actually build a case against them.

I believe it is important to think critically and have productive dialogue regarding the issues of our day. We must not rely on others’ opinions, but should do our own research and ask thoughtful questions before coming to conclusions.

In doing so, I’m not trying to downplay anyone’s pain or personal experience with the virus; on the contrary, it is crucial to examine the impact of COVID-19 from multiple perspectives. I have repeatedly been told that, if I had experienced the devastation of this virus, I would think and behave differently. To that I say, is there anyone who hasn’t experienced the devastation of this virus? And why do some people limit the negative impact to catching the virus or deaths attributed to the virus? It goes so much deeper than that:

Consider the impact on people’s livelihoods: In Louisville alone, hundreds of businesses have closed this year. Many workers have been laid off. Our state economy has been devastated. You might say that this isn’t as important as the loss of human life. In fact, it does sound like a reasonable concession to make for the sake of so many potential lives lost. However, when we consider that perhaps the numbers are being over-dramatized, it should make us pause. Even if they weren’t, we need to look at the short and long-term consequences of this huge economic loss. Indeed, it could result in loss of life, and definitely results in loss of quality of life.

Depression and anxiety are on the rise. This is a major consequence of the lockdowns. Many children and adolescents are suffering from the lack of true social interaction and the uncertainty perpetuated by these mitigation measures and the media attention given to the pandemic. Unemployment also contributes to mental health, as does isolation. And what about the elderly who are not allowed visitors, even in the final moments of their lives? It seems downright unreasonable that the government has even mandated that people die alone.

Students are receiving less-than-ideal education, because non-traditional instruction (NTI) is not cutting it for many who are enrolled in in-person programs. Granted, NTI can be done well, but many students in public schools, especially if they do not have parental support, are not getting an education comparable to what they received in the classroom.

These are just a few of the consequences of restricting the movement, activity, and free will of the entire population. And what’s worse is that the restrictions are somewhat random, with some industries and activities being allowed to continue, while others are not.

Concerns regarding religious liberty may be the most alarming. Church, we are being lulled to sleep, boiled alive, or whatever proverb you want to use. We are operating with our masks not just covering our mouths and noses, but our eyes and ears as well! Some are allowing feelings and experiences to override truth, facts, and even Scripture.

I understand that COVID is real and that people do have devastating health effects, some of which we may not realize for years to come; however, some people act as if this is the only cost, and that we must avoid losing even one life due to this virus. How many of those same people are doing everything they can to avoid cancer, heart disease, and diabetes? How many people who shame others for not wearing a mask would do the same to someone smoking a cigarette or going through the drive-through at a fast-food restaurant? How many of those same people make sure they are doing everything health-wise to avoid the virus? How many text and drive?

It’s time for us to wake up to the possibility that we are being manipulated, and to ask why. This may not be comfortable for some to consider, and I predict that many will be upset by me even suggesting this. Yet, I must. It would be remiss of me to withhold critical thinking in the name of feelings. We must, if we are honest seekers of truth, explore the possibility that we have been conditioned by the media, by our education system, and by the government, to believe things about this virus that are not true. To take it a step further, we may even be responding to this virus in ways that are not correct, and that we may be perpetuating falsehood by going along with the narrative. It’s not wrong to think critically. It’s wrong to allow our feelings to override truth.

If you’ve lost someone due to this virus, I am not downplaying your pain. But I submit to you that I have personally seen things from a different perspective during times of grief, and that perspective has generally been flawed, because grief is all-encompassing. I would also ask you, if your loved one had died of something else, would you be vigilant about the other cause of death? For example, if your loved one died of heart disease, would you be evaluating your health choices in light of your loved one’s death? Would you be changing your eating habits and exercising more? Would you be trying to close down the fast food industry? Would you be shaming people who eat fast food and don’t exercise? These are important questions to ponder, especially given that heart disease is the number one cause of death, and many with COVID had it as a comorbidity. If the answer is “no,” what does that do to your credibility in the way you are handling this virus?

I simply ask that those of you who feel so strongly about these mandates and lockdowns please consider the true statistics and the broader context. I also ask that you try to understand that those of us who feel strongly in the other direction are not malicious, unfeeling, greedy, self-absorbed, indifferent, or stupid. Most of us believe you should be free to make up your own minds about this. Most of us are upset at the powers that have created this pandemic of fear, and we are simply trying to bring truth to light. Most of us would find it easier not to be confrontational, yet we believe in God-given liberty too much to see what is happening and turn a blind eye. We are not your enemy. Please consider our perspective.

One thought on “COVID in KY: What do these numbers mean?

  1. I like reading your posts. They challenge me intellectually and ethically.

    On this recent post I think you should reexamine the use of diabetes, cancer and heart disease as examples of how we act differently in the practice of social norms dealing with these diseases when contrasted to our Covid-19 social behavior. Using all of these diseases as analogous to Covid-19 is a false equivalency. Specifically, the aforementioned diseases are not communicable while Covid-19 is highly so. They are often the result of heredity, sometimes bad luck, but always their severity is either a result of or exacerbated by bad decisions one makes in their personal health choices. I agree that individuals are sovereign to deal with their personal lifestyle and health decisions when the outcome is confined to them personally and do not cause contagion to others. I accept the selfishness of their actions, may give them advice to ignore and grieve their outcomes but I nor society has the responsibility to enforce its beliefs on their freewill.

    Such is not the case with Covid-19. A fair equivalence would be communicable disease such as tuberculosis, H1N1 and other pandemic coronaviruses. They all share commonalities of transmittal by respiratory droplets, major associated health risks, highly communicable and symptoms that result in long term complications and consequences. In the case of Covid-19, medical science has also determined it is highly adaptable and persistent in its transmission. These diseases also share similar medical methodologies and social practices to ameliorate their transmission. These preventative measures include social distancing, mask wearing, strict hygienic protocols, contact tracing and the elimination of social groupings where distancing is not practiced.

    The effectiveness of these medical and social strategies is revealed in multiple data studies comparing countries that adhere to best practices and have positive outcomes (Japan, South Korea, China, New Zealand, Finland) with those that adopt a more laissez faire response (United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, Belgium) and are experiencing little success in controlling the virus. The often discussed experiment by Sweden of herd immunity through soft social implementation of Covid-19 guidelines has failed as detailed by many scientific posts and the Swedish government’s own admissions: https://www.businessinsider.com/sweden-herd-immunity-second-wave-coronavirus-cases-hospitalisations-surge-2020-11.
    A further recognition of the invalidity of herd immunity strategies occurred recently when Scott Atlas a leading proponent of the strategy and one of the president’s chief advisors on Covid-19 abruptly resigned his post.

    Bottom line, Covid-19 is insidious, and we will be battling it for the foreseeable future in spite of advancement in the associated medical science. In the interim I believe we are ethically compelled and socially contracted to practice health and societal measures that have been proven through data and science to reduce its transmission and provide positive outcomes. Without applying these strategies with discipline and commonality our health care systems will crash, our economy increasingly suffers and the integrity of the social fabric of shared sacrifice and common good we depend on when confronting systemic challenges will further deteriorate.

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