COVID-19 has been a godsend for Steve Bullock, whose chances of winning election in the U.S. Senate were next to zero before the Wuhan Virus was politicized, hyperbolized, and sensationalized in the media. But now that largely-irrational panic has unsettled many of Montana’s residents, it has some clamoring for a more intrusive government that conveniently advertises itself as savior. And well-armed with nearly a billion dollars of campaign cash disguised as coronavirus relief funds, Bullock has every possible incentive to carry on the mirage of a “health crisis” whether or not it truly exists.
While coronavirus is a real type of virus, and the strain known as COVID-19 is indeed a nasty little bug, the statistics simply don’t demonstrate that it raises to the level of “crisis.”
Here are the figures, as of Friday (new numbers will be coming out later today):
There have been 2,993 Montanans who have tested positive for Coronavirus. This figure is largely unreliable, however, because an unknown but sizeable number of false positives exist (these have ranged from under 1% to as high as 80%, depending upon the state and company doing the testing). There is also a smaller number of false negatives, according to reports. Of tests being done at the state lab, about 3% of those tested are coming back positive (the national average is 9.6%).
Of those who have tested positive, 1,185 Montanans have recovered (defined by those who are no longer in isolation because they now test negative). This means that there are 1,178 active cases in Montana.
Of those who have tested positive, 46 have died with COVID-19. This does not mean that 46 have died from COVID-19, as press reports widely indicate that coroners have been pressured to state coronavirus as a primary cause of death regardless of whether or not other factors were at play.
It is unknown precisely how many Montanans have been rightly hospitalized (some have reported being hospitalized when they had no complications) for COVID-19 symptoms, but the national average hovers around one percent. The vast majority of those are over the age of 75.
The death rate for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Montana is 1.5%. However, it is estimated that for everyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, there are approximately 24 to 80 times that who have or have had the virus and were never tested, if it is near the national average. This means that it is likely that upwards of 71,832 to 239,440 Montanans have or have had COVID-19 already, but simply have not been tested. This would place the real death rate for COVID-19 in Montana at .064% to .019%.
For comparison, the seasonal flu has a death rate of .015% in Montana. In short, coronavirus is comparable in death rate to the seasonal flu, either slightly deadlier or slightly less-deadly, depending upon the medical data used. The eagerness in the medical community to overstate coronavirus as a cause of death probably makes that actual number far lower.
However, there are differences between the flu and COVID-19 in terms of how it affects the general population. Unlike the flu, which takes a terrible toll primarily on young children (birth to end of adolescence) and the elderly, youth are virtually invulnerable to COVID-19. Deaths are far rarer among children than any other demographic, meaning that Montana’s schools should be the first institutions to re-open, not the last. Also in contract, the flu often kills by itself, whereas COVID-19 deaths without other causes of death or pre-existing conditions is extremely rare.
In comparison, here are causes of death that are more prominent in Montana each year than COVID-19 (according to the Centers for Disease Control):
- Heart Disease: 2,164
- Cancer: 2,145
- Chronic lower respiratory disease: 752
- Accidents: 579
- Stroke: 487
- Suicide: 311
- Diabetes: 292
- Alzheimer’s: 285
- Liver Disease: 195
- Flu: 185
Even if these figures are split in half to be more comparable to the six-months of COVID-19 in the United States, coronavirus simply does not compare in terms of morbidity.