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The mathematics of the Wuhan Virus: Far more hope than doom in this pandemic

Though I’m not a doctor, I am a psychologist, which means I’m a scientist, though one of a more subjective nature than the science of those on the front line fighting the Wuhan Virus. Those are the real heroes of this battle, and they’re going to win it.

I work with a social non-profit that deals with the homeless and the underprivileged, all facing mental health issues for varying degrees. Those disorders range from mild to severe, from depression and anxiety issues, Post-Traumatic Stress, Bipolar I and II, schizophrenia of all types.

Veterans are my specialty. I work with veterans in our Veterans’ Outreach Clinic. These are the men and women who, due to reduction in force before their enlistment contract was up, or who were less-than-honorably discharged, do not qualify for VA benefits but nonetheless need mental health professionals to help them remain grounded and to help them find their baseline norms.

This virus has been particularly hard on these folk, all of them, not just veterans. I have had to deal with a lot of distress, fear and anger these last few weeks. It isn’t that they don’t understand what is going on. They understand it quite well. But they have difficulty processing it, and their fears, anxieties, delusions and depression exacerbate their reactions.

My love and respect for Dr. Anthony Fauci knows no bounds, but his long time away from actual patients and his steadfast commitment to avoiding hyperbole has damaged his ability to provide hope and vision for the day the disease has passed.

President Trump is an optimist and while that optimism may occasionally lead him to be too much so. What we need in the U.S. right now, however, is optimism, and he provides encouragement and hope that pure scientists cannot vocalize.

Media have put out a narrative of animosity between Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and President Trump. (Photo: ABC News)

These differences have been played out in the media as tension, disagreement and ill-will between the two men. Dr. Fauci has made it absolutely clear, he has never been silenced or prevented from giving his take on the virus, and that the two work well together.

Will we be back in church on April 12 for Easter services? I don’t know, but I like the thought. It is a goal, though it is only 18 days away — two and a half weeks. But it’s just a goal, not an absolute, and his critics are overreacting. They are merchants of gloom and doom and they don’t care if the country needs hope and optimism right now.

Yes, it seems like an impossible turnaround from where we are right now. That is, if you accept the hype of the state-run Democrat media like CNN and “MSDNC,” as the president refers to NBC’s cable news channel. Or if you can’t see past the “just the facts, ma’am” demeanor of Dr. Fauci and others, who can be forgiven for being cautious.

So I sat down and did the math. Yeah, psychologists do know math. Surprise, surprise.

Here is the deal: Right now, New York state has the highest “attack ratio” — the rate of infection in a population over a given time frame — in the nation, at one per 1,000 people. That rate is five times higher than the rest of the United States.

Now, let me qualify that number by stating, it could change. Since it is a time frame measure rather than an immunity measure. It could drop to the U.S. average of one per 5,000 people, or it could skyrocket to one per 200 people. We don’t know.

In most virus pandemics, that attack ratio remains pretty stable. Of course, with the elderly and others with compromised immune systems, it is higher, and with the younger, healthier people, it is much lower. That is why many younger people have been found to have the virus and no symptoms at all. It all averages out.

So let’s do that math, shall we?

New York state's "attack ratio" is one per 1,000 people, five times higher than the rest of the U.S. Even if the U.S. experience double that level, the Wuhan Virus won't kill the "hundreds of thousands doom-and-gloom-sayers are touting. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Using New York state’s attack ratio of one per 1,000 — again, five times higher than the rest of the U.S., for argument’s sake — that means 327,000 people of a population of 327 million will get the Wuhan Virus.

But let’s really warp the statistics out of shape and assume the whole nation experiences an overall attack ratio of one per 500. That doubles the number who will be infected to 654,000. The current U.S. death rate is one of the lowest in the world, at 1.4 percent.

As of this morning at 8:00 a.m. ET, we had 55,238 cases total in the U.S., with 809 deaths. We are on a track that signifies, of those estimated 654,000 infected, approximately 9,576 people will, unfortunately, die.

Many doctors and the upper echelons of the healthcare bureaucracy are claiming millions will be sick and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands will die.

The math just isn’t there to indicate that.

Again, I’m a psychologist. I believe in hope, courage and optimism. I’m not going to tell you, “This is the way it is and that’s final,” because no one can possibly know that. I can tell you that viruses follow a mathematical formula, and the early indications hold true throughout the course of a pandemic.

We are taking, as you well know, extraordinary measures across this great country — travel bans in and out of the country, barring people coming from high infection areas from entering the U.S., and locally, gatherings of 10 people or less, the closing of nonessential businesses and “stay-at-home” orders.

That is why we are not seeing the massive infection rates of China, Iran and Italy.

Our final numbers may be higher than what our little math exercise says here. They could also be lower. What matters is that we will get through this, we will come out of it better than before, and this virus may bring about positive change to education, healthcare, small business and even big corporate America does business.

We are the United States of America. We will overcome this and any other challenge thrown at us. That is who we are.

Be strong, be safe, believe.

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