Whenever I’m curious about the state of COVID in North Dakota, I go to the ND Department of Health COVID dashboard. I have to get out a calculator, though, to find what I’m looking for, because the useful information I want isn’t presented on the page. The information I really want isn’t there at all. The numbers I calculate are the percentage of current cases hospitalized and the total percentage of deaths. As of Nov. 17, those numbers are 3.67% hospitalization and 1.12% mortality. That’s using total hospitalized with COVID, not just due to COVID. These numbers are like a worst-case scenario. Maybe I’m a wild optimist, but these numbers don’t look to me like a crisis of any sort.

Considering demographics, 73% of those currently hospitalized are 60 and older, and 67% of all deaths were in people older than 80. Hospitalizations and death are serious and tragic, but the risks are quite focused to specific populations. Why not take focused measures rather than blanketing the state? Be a surgeon, not a butcher.

Now to the information that isn't available: how many cases are asymptomatic? We’ve been told it’s a majority. How many medical staff and teachers are quarantined due to positive tests but aren’t symptomatic? The critical shortages in our community are people shortages. It’s not that everyone is dying; it’s that many are quarantining due to positive tests, with the majority asymptomatic! This sounds like a self-perpetuating crisis.

Given the low, worst-case statistics, what is the real community risk of having someone walking around spreading the virus and what measures reasonably address that risk? I’ll say this: the real community risk is low, and reasonable measures don’t include dramatically restricting or altering all our social, business, educational and religious interactions.

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