David C. Henley: COVID-19 three years later


Set at the confluence of the Yangtze and Han rivers, the port city of Wuhan, which has a population of more than 11 million that makes it China’s ninth largest city, is the political, financial, cultural, scientific, transportation and educational hub of Central China.

Three years ago his month, however, Wuhan received a new distinction, one that has struck fear and terror around the world, when doctors in Wuhan announced that an increasing number of their patients were getting ill from an unknown and deadly viral disease. That disease soon spread to other cities and then to Italy and Iran before jumping to the United States, where a resident of Washington state was diagnosed with the disease in mid-January, 2020. It then exploded across the world and was eventually named COVID-19.

The disease rampaged across the United States and in March 2020, President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a “public health emergency.”

Five days ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in its most recent cumulative COVID-19 report that there have been more that 6 million worldwide deaths from the disease that includes 98,481,557 confirmed cases and the deaths of 1,075,779 in the United States.

The CDC also announced in its report that there have been 849,587 confirmed cases and 11,600 deaths from the disease in Nevada since it began recording figures in all the states and U.S. territories in 2020. The CDC statistics included COVID-19 information from Nevada’s 17 counties as well, and I have selected several of them to report on today.

They are: Churchill, 7,427 cases and 118 deaths; Carson City, 16,812 cases and 228 deaths; Washoe, 124,023 cases and 1,278 deaths and Clark, 648,871 cases and 9,058 deaths.

The CDC also reported figures for Nevada’s smallest counties in terms of their population, and here are the results from two of them: Eureka, 181 cases and 2 deaths and Esmeralda, 123 cases and five deaths. Figures for the entire state are continually updated by the CDC and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center, and they may be found on their respective websites.

I must note again that these above figures provided by the CDC are cumulative. They record COVID-19 cases, most of which do not result in death, and the COVID deaths. The cumulative figures are revealed by the CDC once or twice a month. Statistics from other states and their counties, along with those in the five U.S. overseas territories, also may be found in the CDC reports that are carried on its website. The New York Times’ excellent cumulative COVID-19 report on the states and territories is located on its website.

I am sure that all of us agree that the COVID-19 statistics provided by the CDC are frightening. Some of us may have family members, friends or neighbors who have or have had COVID-19, but are not expected to die.

Perhaps a few LVN readers know or know of someone who passed away from the disease. In the U.S. and many other countries, COVID-19 has become a leading cause of death, alongside heart disease, cancer and stroke. Many health experts say the pandemic’s true death toll is likely much higher.

“It is quite possible that the number of (reported) deaths is double what we see,” says Dr. Amber D’Souza, professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. D’Souza and other experts point out that the official global tally captures only confirmed cases in each country, and standards for reporting deaths vary widely. “Some countries lack the robust testing protocols needed to diagnose cases while others may not count people who died from COVID-19 because many victims have died at home because they are poor and cannot afford medical care and thus are not recorded in official death tolls,” the professor said.

A Los Angeles Times analysis revealed that the elderly bear the brunt of the disease. The death rate for people 80 and older in California who had the disease has tripled when taking into account their advanced ages and other diseases they also may have had before death. Though disease experts predict COVID-19 will remain one of the major causes of death in the future, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, said in an ABC News interview last Sunday that he urges Americans of all ages to “take the appropriate vaccinations and booster shots because they give us critical protection from COVID-19.

“Updated vaccinations and booster shots and flu shots will help us move on from the pandemic,” hopes Dr. Jha.

David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.

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