Archive for July 3rd, 2020

COVID: Comparing the US and EU

I’m watching Europe. EU countries got through the first wave relatively quickly, unlike the US. The United States is still in the throes of it’s first wave, which is lasting longer because the geographic spread took time.

Will there be a second wave in Europe? If there is, that will be an ominous sign. Also, the Swedish model needs to be looked at closely. It has been misunderstood – it’s not like Trump’s “just reopen” approach, but built on a Scandinavian sense of collective responsibility.

Sweden’s case total is, when compared to population, similar to ours – one of the worst states in terms of limiting the spread. Their death rate is also higher than ours, focused in nursing homes and among the elderly. For the rest of the EU, total case levels are much lower than ours. We have 2,770,000 cases. The EU has a total of 1,290,000 (which does include Sweden). Their population is 446 million, the US has 330 million. More importantly, their rate is going down. European countries are down to very few new cases daily, and they are reopening their economies, children are back in school, and life is getting back to normal. Our first wave seems to be gaining force. This is very troubling since we already are doing far worse than the EU.

Also interesting: total EU deaths are similar to our totals, despite having far fewer cases. The reason is almost completely the fact that a number of countries hit early were unprepared. Overcrowded hospitals and lack of resources in places like Italy led to higher death rates than should have been the case. So far, the US has avoided that in most places. But the exception here proves the rule. New York state had 32,081 deaths, Italy had 34,833. Italy has three times the population of New York, but New York had almost twice as many total cases. The death rate in New York was 8%, it’s 4% for the rest of the US. In Italy it was 14%. That shows how the death rate was highest in places hit first and unprepared – and is what now threatens states like Florida and Texas. We’ll see how prepared they are – watch death rates from those states. Texas has a low death rate of 1.3% as it stands – we’ll see if that grows.

If Europe does not suffer a second wave, then the US needs to recognize that we failed at stopping COVID, and have more deaths, and a far longer period of economic turmoil and closed schools than in Europe. If Europe does have a second wave, and it is intense, the issue becomes murkier. Maybe the more powerful “first waves” in Sweden and the US mean a second wave would be less intense. We won’t know for sure until after the dust settles on this pandemic. But if Europe has a second wave, that is a sign that we’ll be dealing with his pandemic well into 2022.

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