The Viral Divide

The Viral Divide
This is the current situation in the US: The two coasts are focused on fear of the virus while the rest of the country is focused on reopening the economy. Where you stand depends on where you sit.

The COVID-19 risk/benefit calculation is very dependent on a person’s economic condition and political predilection. Supporters of President Trump tend to support a swifter and broader return to normalcy while those in opposition feel that continued quarantining is the appropriate strategy for the foreseeable future. But the viral divide, driven by “quarantine fatigue” and exacerbated by warmer Spring weather, isn’t just political, it’s geographic.

What’s different now from one month ago is COVID-19 infection rates in large population centers along the American coasts are trending down and the crisis of hospital resources is abating. On the other hand, less populated states never reached the same levels of infection or healthcare resource constraints — so they haven’t been as psychologically scarred as those in New York City and other major urban centers. Big city “elites” sneer at their country cousins, believing they are not acting responsibly as they move to reopen their economies. The middle of the country thinks the coasts are out of touch with their economic realities. That’s Part One.

Part Two is that we have a better, more science-based understanding of how to deal with COVID-19. We can identify the 10-15% of our communities at high risk for serious viral manifestations (older, with respiratory and other serious underlying health conditions population) and we now have a new therapeutic to help them — remdesivir. Not a game changer, but some good news — with hopefully more to come (repurposed use of heparin shows some early promise). We also understand that about 85% of those who contract the virus will either, (1) be asymptomatic (about 20%) or (2) ride it out at home through liquids and bedrest. 

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