Kentucky COVID: Last Chapter

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

The long winter of my despair, which is named not COVID-19 but the reaction to it, has likely found its last chapters. The vaccine is here and while the concerns of its hurried development and ultimate efficacy are reasonable, millions of injections are likely to be delivered safely and send this mess to a back burner and hopefully the pages of history. And when that happens, I wonder if the real story of this is ever told.

Will we tell the story of not just the virus, but the reaction to it and what we lost along the way? The overdoses, the suicides, the Non-COVID illnesses gone untreated and diagnosed, the mental illness, the economic harm, the damage to our children’s education, well-being, and opportunities. But ‘ya know, lots of people are dying of COVID. So, was it worth it?

Let’s look at data and facts first

From March 2020 to March 2021, here are 20 Kentucky facts and trends that might help:

  1. Our state’s population is about 4,500,000. 3,800,000 from birth to retirement age (65). And about 130 people die every day of something – 45,000 or so per year
  2. A little less than 10% of the state will have tested positive for COVID-19
  3. 20% of all KY ‘cases’ will be classified as ‘probable’
  4. After months of fever-pitched discourse, the WHO and Dr. Fauci have both stated that PCR tests may be too sensitive and diagnosing positives that have no chance of spreading the virus. The test we are basing everything on could be severely flawed.
  5. KY Public Heath leaders say they “do not have access to the lab sensitivity thresholds for testing” but establish their restrictions based on a seven-day average of positive tests from test sensitivity we can’t confirm.
  6. KY reveals no data on repeat testing, unique testing, testing results by lab, and no data of any kind on contact tracing
  7. KY publishes no hospitalization data by age, long-term care-related and not, by co-morbidity condition or whether they were hospitalized for COVID-19 or happened to test positive while hospitalized for another matter
  8. KY publishes no date of test positivity for cases or date of death
  9. We are on pace to lose about 3500 Kentuckians or 0.0738% (meaning we are not losing 99.937%)
  10. Less than 1200 people outside of Nursing Homes and ‘Congregate’ living will have died with COVID-19 or 0.0269%
  11. From birth to retirement age, about 500 people will have died with COVID-19 or 0.0132%. We will lose around 770 people to highway deaths in 2020.
  12. Less than 100 people under the age of 50 will have died. Less than 5 under the age of 30.
  13. About 90% of deaths will be from the over 65 age group, 75% over 70 and 50% over 80.
  14. If over 80 in KY, you will have had a 98.8% chance of COVID-19 survival in this time period
  15. 70% of all deaths will be from Nursing Homes and ‘Congregate’ living—tracking over 20% more than the national average
  16. We do not have reliable data to know how many Kentuckians died principally of COVID-19, COVID-19 materially contributed to their death or whether they died of something else entirely and happened to have tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of death.
  17. System-wide hospital capacity has never been out of hand. While there are individual hospitals in rural locations that faced capacity issues, like King’s Daughters in Ashland, you were never told that another hospital in the Ashland of over 200 beds and 60 years in business closed in 2020–a closure that would have created more pressure on King’s Daughters with or without COVID and a situation that was never a reflection on the healthcare system.
  18. Overdoses, homicides and other non-COVID death rates are tracking to all time highs. The full data in most of these areas won’t be out until Spring 2021
  19. Over 30% of all small businesses will have closed their doors during this time period
  20. Nearly all children have been harmed, held back or otherwise negatively affected despite being proven time and time again not to be at risk or a significant vector of transmission

 

Doesn’t the low COVID numbers mean the restrictions worked? For me, no. Emphatically no. Hell no. And to me, they could only be justified if the costs are acceptable to you and COVID prevention is paramount to all other factors of life.

Was it worth it? For me, no. Emphatically no. Hell no. Birth to 65 you are more likely to die in a highway accident. What we’ve surrendered for a relative risk of death lower than many other risks we take every day and have all our lives is more than most seem to care about. The real story has to reach beyond the measures of biostatistical evidence or relative risk and into who we’ve become?

A New America?

Allowing a person to govern themselves and measure their own risk tolerance has yielded to ideological entrenchment born from propaganda and new America brimming with adults seeking protection at the expense of what’s best for their kids, security over achievement and safety over freedom. Is this a new America?

This America gleefully exploited a loophole in a government formed by, of and for the people to allow unchecked power of little regional kings and suspension of liberty without a modest check or balance. This new America was all too eagerly greeted and manipulated by the second-class minds of government and dying traditional media outlets grasping for profitable and polarizing narratives over the truth that comes from responsible journalism and free press.  

Maybe we’re all just too afraid of dying ourselves or seeing someone we love die to care about the importance of living—as if death avoidance at all cost is virtue. Of course elderly lives matter, but scaring you into ‘compliance’ and keeping all people from living as a strategy to prevent old people from dying is, to me, the worst strategy ever imagined in all of human history. And while this statement angers people enormously, they are dying. Average stay in the KY Nursing Home pre-COVID was 13 months and that’s not because they’re moving to Florida.   

Our little king used fear and the half-truths that lean into our insecurity to scare people into compliance. And despite our heritage of courage in the face of unimaginable obstacles, it worked. Even people opposed to the edicts wouldn’t shout against the throne even when it hurt their kids–exposing another kind of weird societal condition. But other than fear of the Lord, fear is never virtuous and it’s not an attribute of leadership but a tool of petty tyrants.

Can’t we at least all agree that the protection of adults and self-seeking perception of safety gifted by politicians all at the expense of children is severely misaligned?

Hopefully this stands as my epilogue to a series of failed attempts at screaming another perspective into the void. For those few that have seen value in this point of view and fought alongside me, thank you and keep going. And even for those that have raged against my point of view, thanks (though the death threats were a bit much). The largely discredited science I love requires discourse, not compliance to a single narrative. It requires the courage of critical thinking against the consensus of the mob. So does the country I love.

My Epoch of Belief and Spring of Hope

I’ve lived much of my life governed by fear until an adult awakening took me almost too far in the other direction. But faith can do that. It brings wisdom, courage and overcomes weakness, vulnerabilities and injustice. There’s hope in that. Mountains of heroic activities have transpired to help people, correctly address the virus, help kids and save businesses in the face irrational and unimaginable actions. There’s hope in that. There are voices of everyday patriots that will shout at the crimes against humanity gone unrecorded. There’s hope in that too.

In the end, there is nothing one little king can take from you, my King can’t restore. I’ve seen Him do it.

And He’ll do it again.

All data sourced through the State’s COVID website, the COVID Tracking Project, the CDC or the articles linked through the piece.