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Local doctor wraps up virus reports for time being

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(Note: Dr. John Hearnsberger presented his final regularly scheduled update on coronavirus Sunday morning at First United Methodist Church of Nashville. If “something significant” develops, he says he will ask to speak again.)

HMH continues its lockdown for the 9th week.  We  currently have 1 inpatient suspected of having COVID-19, and 2 patients treated and discharged this past week.  1 tested negative and 1 pending. Our average daily census, outpatient visits, ED visits, and surgery cases are all well below budget.  We continue to test for the virus prior to elective surgery.  An off-campus facility has been approved to hospitalize patients if HMH is at full capacity.  Businesses continue the reopening process, and I remain unaware of any mishaps.

Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for the state from the morning paper [ADG]—

1. Total cases—5775.   Thursday there was a spike in total cases by 455, the largest one day spike since the first case in Ark. was confirmed Mar. 11.  229 cases were positive at the federal prison at Forrest City.  The remaining 226 cases doubled the record of 113 cases added on May 14.  Increased testing could be the answer, but one has to be concerned with a resurgence of the disease.  154 more cases were then added Friday, and 163 cases were added Saturday.  The Governor warns of a second wave of infections.  The state’s unemployment surged to 10.2%.

2. Deaths—115

3. Death rate—2%.

4. 74/75 counties are affected.  Howard Co. continues to report 14 cases with no mortality.  I do not have a good number this morning of the total number of tests done in Howard Co.  Calhoun County is now the only county with no reported cases.

Worldwide—

1.  Total—5,311,089.  

2.  Deaths—342,104.

3.  Death rate—6.4%

U. S. Cases—

1.  Total—1,657,212.

2.  Deaths—97,426.

3.  Death rate—5.9%

Today I want to take about perspective, an I will define perspective as,  “The capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.”  And I will start with numbers I have quoted.

During my first talk I quoted the death rate from seasonal flu at about 0.1%, the the projected death rate from the coronavirus at that time was 1.0%-3.4%, or at least ten times greater than seasonal flu.  Last week I quoted the Arkansas PCR confirmed cases of flu [6820] with 20 PCR confirmed deaths, or about a 0.3% death rate.  The total  Ark. deaths attributed to the flu were 118, also about a 0.3% death rate.  These percentages, higher than those reported nationally, do not take into account those that went undiagnosed.

I discussed the cumulative burden of the flu nationwide.  Using those CDC numbers, the death from the flu was 0.06%-0.11%.  Remember the explanation from the CDC,  “Because influenza surveillance does not capture all of the of cases of the flu that occur in the U.S., the CDC provides these estimated ranges to reflect the larger burden of influenza.”  So I ask,  “Why is COVID-19 any different?”  A 6.4% death rate does not take into account undiagnosed cases.  We all know from various sources, there are asymptomatic carriers.  Maybe widespread testing will give us the answer, by sampling a large enough segment of the population so that the results are statistically significant.  Remember statistical significance means the results are not likely due to chance.

There is a lot going on with this virus we don’t know, or at least we are not being told.  The coronavirus has been around for some time, and is reported to account for 25% of common colds each year.  Could this be the reason we see positive cases with little/no symptoms?  Could these individuals have partial or complete immunity from having had a common cold?  The New York Times reported a few days back that New York City had an immunity of at least 21% to COVID-19, vindicating Dr. Knut Wittkowski, who has been a vocal critic of the handling of this pandemic.  His videos are worth a look, but have been pulled from You Tube.  Search for them by his name. 

This is a zoonotic virus.  Did it escape from a lab in China sanctioned by the WHO? Did it come from bats in a wet market and jump to humans? Is it a military weapon escaped or released by China? Was it for economic retaliation? WE DON’T KNOW! And there is fear of the unknown.  Maybe there is an explanation or reason to explain why we don’t  know. We shut down the best economy in decades and are creating an economic disaster because of this virus.  Why?

Next I want to bring to your attention a paper written on April 19th, by multiple physicians, and the primary author is David Williams MD, from Alabama, titled “Coronavirus Truthsm” subtitled “The Truth [and Lies] about Coronavirus.” This is worth a read.  You can find it online or I can email to the church or paper.   

I will reference one paragraph titled “Lie: The fact one doesn’t know he or she has COVID-19 makes it more dangerous.” Here Dr. Williams is discussing the virulence of the virus, and relates it to football—Alabama football. All of us fans can relate. He states,  “COVID-19 is so much less virulent [than the flu] that it usually never overcomes the immune system of a healthy adult. Yes, they will shed this virus for two weeks, but most people around them still won’t get it.” He continues, “Think of the healthy adult immune system as Alabama’s 2019 football team. Influenza is LSU’s 2019 football team. It only took one exposure to LSU to record a loss. COVID-19 is closer to Arkansas’s 2019 football team, maybe Ole Miss. Alabama could have played them 14 times and were less likely to lose than the one game with LSU. It is possible to record a loss, with some fumbles and a blocked punt, but way less likely.”  

I cannot explain death rates of 6.4% globally and 5.95% nationally.  If this virus is so highly contagious, as reported, why did not all of the passengers on the cruise ships get sick, or at least a high percentage?  And the highest cruise ship death rate I could find was 2.9%. The same applies to the US Naval ship.  These are the types of questions we need answered going forward. Maybe the data is available, but I have not found it.

I do recommend you read Dr. Williams’ interesting paper.  Google it. Furthermore, the lead story in this morning’s paper [ADG] in the op-ed section is on reopening schools.  Take a look.

My final thought for the morning—What has dominated the news cycle for the last 3 1/2 years?

1.  Russian collusion—Russia, Russia, Russia.

2.  Obstruction of justice.

3.  Impeachment.  By the way, impeachment completely dominated Congress while the COVID-19 was getting a foothold in the U.S. 

4. And now COVID-19 dominates the news.  

Without question, the first 3 were political.  No doubt.  And #4, COVID-19—is this political?  

This is my last regularly scheduled talk for Sunday morning.  If something significant develops, I will ask to speak again. Good information is readily available in the state paper each day [ADG], the Ark. Dept. of Health web site, CDC web site, and on Google, COVID-19 statistics.

Even though I have quoted Bible verses, it was never my intention to save your soul, but maybe give you an idea or two that could  help prevent an infection, or even save your life. I hope I’ve done that.  Remember—Practice infection control.  Listen to the facts. Do your own investigations. Avoid the hype and the partisan politics. 

Thank you all for providing time for thoughts on this pandemic. 

Godspeed.