Covid-19 Journal #13 – May 16, 2020

Teams are disinfecting parks and playgrounds in anticipation of opening on Monday. I took this photo on my street yesterday.

I am trying to figure out the mortality rate of Covid-19. There has been an immense amount of information and troublingly, conflicting information about this novel coronavirus. I guess this is the “fog of war” of the uncertainty involved in fighting this enemy disease. I have seen estimates ranging from 2% to 5.8% depending on the date, place and organization. What makes it difficult to calculate is many infected people do not show symptoms and are never tested. There is some error also with the number of deaths, but I would say the error of number of cases is probably greater because of this lack of testing. I found this State of New York study that tested 15,103 people in grocery stores and community centers throughout the state. For non-Americans reading this, the state of New York is big and surprisingly rural, with “Upstate” New York compared to my sparsely populated birth place of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. So the study covered not only the dense metropolis of New York City, but also sparsely populated areas that border Canada and stretch almost to Cleveland, Ohio. That study found a total12.3 % of those people tested had antibodies to the coronavirus and logically, a higher percentage in NYC (19.9%).

Extrapolating this out to the entire population, this article on estimates that the current known number of deaths should be doubled and the number of cases should be multiplied by 10. That would mean a mortality rate of 0.28%, which is about 3 times more deadly than an average strain of influenza. The analysis goes on to show that 89% of the deaths were people with an underlying condition and for people under the age of 65, the mortality rate is 0.09%, which does not take into account, underlying conditions. These mortality rates will be probably change as more data becomes available.

In thinking about the situation here in Uzbekistan, I will compare it to California. The two are approximately the same size in area, with Uzbekistan having 8 million less people (think California minus the Bay Area). With significantly more testing and probably more accurate data, California has around 75,000 confirmed cases with over 3,000 deaths. The Uzbek Ministry of Health statistics report approximately 2,700 confirmed cases with 10 deaths. According to these statistics, there are probably a little over 300 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Tashkent, with a population of 2.5 million, about the size of metropolitan Sacramento.

The country is starting to open back up. The government divided the country into three zones, red (shut-down), yellow (partially open) and green (fully open). Tashkent is a yellow zone. They are loosening restrictions starting Monday to allow for cars to travel anytime between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM and more businesses are opening. Parks, soccer fields and green areas are re-opening but will be limited to the number of visitors at any one time. They are resuming some national flights and trains, but the country is still closed until at least June 1.

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