Q&A of the Day – Is COVID-19 more deadly than the traditional flu?

Q&A of the Day – Is COVID-19 more deadly than the traditional flu?

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1

Today’s entry: It’s interesting how everyone seems to want to open their states when deaths get near zero for cv-19, but in Dec and January when hundreds died in each state from Flu people couldn’t care less.

Bottom Line: I understand the cynicism but it’s probably not fair to suggest state officials don’t care about people dying from the traditional flu. Of course, it’s not plausible to keep people from getting sick and dying as a result. This takes us back to the frequently advanced argument of the traditional flu potentially being as bad or worse than COVID-19. But there’s a vast difference between a pandemic and flu season. Now that we’re hopefully heading down the backside of the impact of the virus – I can illustrate the vast differences in deaths between the two in sheer numbers. 

Using CDC data for deaths attributed to the flu over the past decade shows the following: 

  • An average of 37,000 people have died due to the flu annually in the United States
  • The fewest deaths attributed to the flu over the prior ten is 12,000
  • The most deaths attributed to the flu over the prior ten is 61,000

There are many numbers pertaining to the flu that’d been thrown around by many during the course of this pandemic but aren’t accurate. Again, what I just shared with you is what’s real. Understand that when you’re using flu comparisons these are the numbers represented by the rhetoric. The first reported death attributed to COVID-19 in the United States occurred on March 1st (though a recent autopsy in California suggests the first deaths may have occurred in mid-February). From March 1st through April 26th-eight weeks – we had 55,415 deaths in the United States. That’s already more than the flu in nine out of the past ten years and by the end of the week we’ll have more COVID deaths than we’re had during any full year over the prior decade. Again, there’s just no valid empirical comparison between the two. What’s more, is that obviously no shutdown measures happen during the typical flu season while these numbers are this high despite a month and a half of stay-at-home orders across the country.As for the policy side of reopening states...

By Monday fourteen states had had already taken phase 1 reopening measures and by the end of this week 31 states are scheduled to do so. It doesn’t appear most states are waiting until the death rate is near zero before reopening and that would appear to be the case in Florida as well. I understand the frustration many have with the decisions that have been made. Understand that my sharing of empirical info, including the dispelling the validity of flu comparisons isn’t meant to advocate for specific policy. I’ve found many have taken it that way. It’s simply important to establish the facts and make smart decisions based upon them. You may decide whether you agree with the decisions of public officials or not. Instead, in a more practical sense, my thoughts are like this. In everyday life, including during peak flu seasons, a person with asthma – regardless of age - is able to go about their life without the fear of dying even if they become ill. That’s the difference with COVID-19 and that’s an example of what’s needed for many. Recently I discovered 58% of households include at least one person who is in an “at-risk” category for COVID-19 complications. That’s a major concern to balance for all of us who have loved ones in this situation under our roofs – even after lockdown measures are lifted. 

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