Is that what this coronavirus outbreak is — a large-scale outbreak? Let’s look at the numbers. The state of Georgia has a population of 10.52 million people. As of this writing on Good Friday, Georgia has had a total of 11,483 confirmed cases and 416 deaths. For the sake of comparison, consider that 1,505 people were killed in automobile accidents in 2019.
It is helpful to remember that according to some reports, every person who dies after being diagnosed with coronavirus is counted as a death by coronavirus, which inflates the statistics on virus deaths. And please recall in 2018, a whopping 28,544 abortions were performed in Georgia. Indeed, every man will die, but not everyone will be given the opportunity to live.
I will admit to my embarrassment that I have not always chosen to attend church on Easter Sunday, but never in my lifetime have I been denied the opportunity to attend Easter services because all the churches are going to be closed. Our nation is currently paralyzed by fear that has largely been inspired by the same sort of computer simulation models used to predict abrupt, catastrophic climate change requiring the same sort of panicked, knee-jerk reaction we’re currently seeing toward COVID-19.
According to the statistical models, I’m considered in the high-risk category for coronavirus because I’ve had asthma since my birth, now almost sixty years ago. Statistics have shown that people of my age and older with pre-existing health conditions are most vulnerable to coronavirus and most susceptible to dying from it. Let me be abundantly clear: I have no imminent desire to die and no reason to believe that I won’t have several more decades of life to enjoy, but I do not want any extension of my life to come at the expense of everyone else.
Until it gets a little warmer, I’m perfectly willing to wear the N-95 mask and plastic gloves I found in my workshop when I go out to shop at the store because I don’t want to die anytime soon. However, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life as a prisoner in my own home. I don’t want younger and healthier people to suffer endlessly because I might be at a slightly higher risk than the vast majority of our population. I want to be able to go to church and take communion this Sunday. I want to go out to eat in a restaurant. I want to see the Atlanta Braves play baseball. I want to watch Georgia play Alabama in football on September 19. I want to play tennis and get more exercise than walking my dogs.
I wasn’t a math major, but I know from taking a class or two in statistics that if you divide the number of infections by the total population of Georgia, you should be able to calculate the probability of encountering a contagious person with coronavirus, and 11,483 divided by 10.52 million means about a 0.001 chance, or 1 in a 1,000 chance, of even bumping into someone with the virus. If I’m wearing personal protective equipment and wash my hands frequently, the chances of my catching the virus are further diminished.
The bottom line is simply this: the damage to our economy isn’t worth the additional risk to my own life. Statistically speaking, I’m equally if not more likely to die in a traffic accident or of a heart attack than coronavirus. We’re all going to die sooner or later. It’s never been a question of “if,” but “where,” “when,” and “how.”
In the movie The Wrath of Khan, Mr. Spock chooses to sacrifice himself to save the crew of the USS Enterprise, telling Captain Kirk, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
Not being as smart or eloquent as Mr. Spock, I probably would have just said, “I’m willing to take one for the team.” Quite frankly, I loathe the idea of being held hostage by a computer program that hasn’t even been in the ballpark on its predictions so far. And if I’m wrong, I’ll be the one paying the price, right?
America needs to get back to work. My personal needs are not more important than the rest of society. Reopening the economy for the benefit of all is worth the risk I’m willing to take.