Public health officials are stating that we are "back to square one" with COVID-19, pointing to skyrocketing case numbers, and predicting an impending wave of deaths. But what if the case numbers are misleading?
To understand the issue, it's important to understand what a "COVID-19 case" is. Prior to April 5, 2020, a "case" required laboratory confirmation. In other words, a positive COVID-19 test. But, after April 5, the CDC changed the requirements to include "probable cases."
What is a probable case? According to the CDC's website, it can be a person who meets clinical, epidemiological, or vital records criteria with no confirmatory laboratory testing.
Clinical criteria includes the following:
At least two of the following symptoms: fever (measured or subjective), chills, rigors, myalgia, headache, sore throat, new olfactory and taste disorder(s)
At least one of the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
Yes, you read that correctly. If you have a headache and sore throat, OR you have a cough, you can be counted as a COVID case. Seasonal allergies? Common cold? If you go to the doctor, congratulations, you just got counted in the COVID stats!
But, wait ... It gets better.
Epidemiological linkage includes the following:
One or more of the following exposures in the 14 days before onset of symptoms:
- Close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 disease; OR
- Close contact with a person with:
- clinically compatible illness AND
- linkage to a confirmed case of COVID-19 disease.
- Travel to or residence in an area with sustained, ongoing community transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
- Member of a risk cohort as defined by public health authorities during an outbreak.
This means that if you have even been around people that are suspected to have COVID, you now count as a case!
With criteria like this, is it any wonder that the number of new cases is growing by thousands per day?
For a reality check, please note that the number of deaths peaked in mid-April, and has been steadily declining. In fact, total deaths from all causes among all age groups is now actually below average! This strongly suggests that the people who died during the initial surge of COVID deaths were those who were in such a fragile state that they were likely to die in the next few months anyway.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 does pose a risk to some people - mainly, the elderly and those with serious pre-existing conditions - but it appears that the case-number data is being manipulated to maximize public fear of COVID-19, as well as to drive compliance with cloth face masks and social distancing, both of which are of dubious efficacy in reducing the spread of an airborne respiratory disease.