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Sonoma County Gazette
Dr. Michael Trapani
Dr. Michael Trapani

Get a Brain, Save a Life

Mar 25, 2020
by Dr. Michael Trapani


Yes, I know: Another article on coronavirus. We’ve all heard way, way too much about this lousy pandemic and we just want the stupid thing to go away. 

And who can blame us? COVID-19 has taken over our lives. We can’t go anywhere or do anything. We can’t even engage in retail therapy, except on line, and nothing is being delivered on time anyway. Besides, we have no room for anything new because there’s ten thousand rolls of toilet paper taking up space in the living room. 

Well, not at our house. We have too many dogs to have room for hoarding toilet paper.

I’m starting this way because I WISH the situation was funny. I WISH we could all start telling COVID jokes: How many COVID carriers does it take to change a light bulb? (None. Who needs a light bulb? All the COVID carriers are out on the beach!)

But it’s NOT funny. And I’m NOT kidding. As I write this, the beaches of Bodega Bay are packed with visitors, some of whom have driven a hundred miles to get here, hauling pathogens with them. All but essential businesses are closed - except for the ones that decided not to close. But there’s no police enforcement of closure rules, so some folks have taken it upon themselves to ignore the Governor, the CDC, the Board of Supervisors, and everybody else. Brilliant.

Our local markets are overwhelmed with crowds of visitors (who don’t seem to remember that all the restaurants are closed) who are buying up everything in sight. That’s just great for people who reside in this little town, most of whom are trying to avoid visiting large stores in large cities, to protect our own safety.

Bodega Bay is a funny place. The mean age of our residents is 65.3 years of age. I myself will turn 66 this year. As much as I hate to admit it, this defines me as "elderly." I think I’m in pretty good shape (who doesn’t?), but being "elderly" make me a member of a group with a much, much higher COVID-19 death rate than the rest of the population. And it’s not just me. It’s EVERYBODY who lives in our little town.

I hear people talking: "It’s no worse than the flu." Uh huh. Tell it to the Italians. COVID is killing literally thousands of people a day (59,138 identified cases, 5,476 dead = 9.3%!!! That’s one out of eleven!).

Is there anyone out there dumb enough to think it’ll be different in America? In the US, the death rate in people over age 80 falls between 10 and 27%!

I hear: "It doesn’t hurt people in my age group." Uh huh. US stats show 14 to 21% of COVID patients between the ages of 20 and 44 required hospitalization. That’s a lot! 1 to 2 out of 1,000 of them die. OK, Millennials, that’s you.

Younger people have less severe symptoms and a lower death rate, but if anything, this makes them MORE DANGEROUS. The less sick you are, the less likely you are to be tested and the more likely you are to move around, spreading the virus to somebody’s mother or father or grandparents or children. How many people have to die before we stop pretending, we’re invincible?

So, let’s just drop the BS and admit it: COVID-19 is a killer. We’ll take it seriously NOW or we’ll start burying our loved ones. If we don’t do something to invalidate the models RIGHT NOW, 50 to 70% of all Americans could become infected. There are about 331 million of us. That means 165 to 232 MILLION Americans could contract COVID-19. If only 1% of those people die, we’re looking at 2,320,000 dead. As of today, the Sonoma County death rate is 1 out of 21 identified cases = 4.8%.

Spanish Flu was nothing compared to this. The 1918 flu pandemic killed "only" 675,000 Americans. Only.

My friends and neighbors, we need to be afraid. We need to be VERY, VERY AFRAID. Take EVERY possible precaution. STAY HOME. Protect yourselves and ALL others. Let’s CRUSH THE PANDEMIC NOW, before it crushes us.



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