How is one supposed to really grasp the number of those infected and killed by COVID19?

There have been 71,401,780 cases confirmed globally, as of December 12 and 1,600,807 deaths. In the United States, 15,939,022 have fallen ill and 296, 656 have died. These are astronomical numbers far beyond my comprehension. Certainly more than I can grasp.

per capita cases in the US as of 12 December 2020

The Numbers in Maryland

Aberdeen’s Festival Park

In the end, I need to know the numbers that help me understand my community, my neighborhood, the dangers that I and my Dear One face in our zip code.

I know that in the US, infections have increased 25%, deaths 60% and hospitalizations are up 20% That seems like a lot to me.

Using the same source of statistics, I see that the rates in Maryland are about the same. Infections are up 21%, deaths are up 60% and hospitalizations are up 23%. 228,471 people have been diagnosed; 5,064 of them have died, an infection rate of almost 4% and a mortality rate of a little over 2%.

These numbers, of course, compare the rates at this moment to the average rates over the past fortnight. We are also sixteen days past Thanksgiving and the rises are driven by those family gatherings.

My Numbers

Even so, what is going on in the western part of the state, or on the Eastern Shore, or even in Baltimore City is less important to me than the situation I face outside my door.

Harford County COVID statistics

County-wide we added 118 diagnoses in the last twenty-four hours to bring our count to 7,096; one more person died, bringing that total to 115.  About 2.5% of Harford Countians have gotten sick and almost 2% of them have died.

Aberdeen is the town where I live and do my food shopping and other essential errands. We are a car-intensive culture, however, and that means we make the occasional and unavoidable run to Havre de Grace and Bel Air. In our town of 16,000 or so, about 4.5% have fallen sick. Fewer than 1% of them have died. Our infection rate is twice that of the County in general.

Death totals are not available at that granular level of zip codes but our infection rate puts us at fifth highest in the county. These numbers I understand. These numbers tell me that I have concrete reasons to be concerned. They also tell me I should not be panicked.

Bad Numbers

I’ll Still Be Home At Christmas

Sadly, these numbers tell me also that I have to think more about whether my Tattooed Boy can join us for Christmas Eve dinner. He works in a restaurant and while his hours have been truncated, he’s still going in. Christmas Eve is the most important one of the entire year to me, the one that makes my soul sing. Damn this virus!

Future Numbers

Two vaccines have been approved. Having an adequate supply and reliable distribution mechanism are way further off. That moment when such an inoculation can be as routine as the flu shot I get each September is more distant still.

It’s not yet safe out there.

I sense, however, a moment when the threat is diminished, when the curve flattens and falls for good and when herd immunity is achievable. I sense that the time will return when family gatherings super-spread something other than lethal disease.

That is what I hope for.