In a Monday New York Times piece entitled Is COVID More Dangerous Than Driving? How Scientists Are Parsing COVID Risks, author Benjamin Mueller attempts to bring some much needed perspective to the amount of risk Americans face from COVID in our new post-pandemalyptic landscape. The article concedes that doctors, scientists and public health officials haven’t been doing a proper job explaining risk to the rest of us dull-witted folks, so they’re going to lay down the facts in a way that even we can understand.
According to the piece, “an average unvaccinated person 65 and older is roughly as likely to die from an omicron infection as someone is to die from using heroin for 18 months.” I’ve long suspected that my ten month heroin addiction was mere child’s play compared to the ravages of Omicron, but finally I’ve had it confirmed for me by a real life health official. Thankfully, I’ve been vaccinated, so there is the peace of mind that comes with that protection, as well as the comfort of knowing I can ride the white horse for another seven months.
A University of Georgia mathematics professor was consulted to provide some overdue insight on how to understand percentages. The professor provided a useful example for overcoming her elderly mother-in-law’s difficulty grasping ten percent, explaining, “imagine if, once out of every 10 times she used the restroom in a given day, she died. ‘Oh, 10% is terrible,’ she recalled her mother-in-law saying.” No doubt everyone’s felt the cold hand of death on their shoulder from time to time when the urgent need to use the restroom arises. However, now the poor mother-in-law is trapped in a self-repeating cycle of alerting the grim reaper after every tenth flush of her toilet.
Another sobering reminder of risk showed “that an average 40-year-old vaccinated over six months ago faced roughly the same chance of being hospitalized after an infection as someone did of dying in a car crash in the course of 170 cross-country road trips.” Additionally, a “transplant recipient is twice as likely to die from COVID as someone is to die while scaling Mount Everest.” Well, when these high-falutin, ivory tower eggheads put it like that, the whole picture comes into high res focus. So, I guess you’re telling me that avoiding that second booster is akin to a daredevil motorcycle rider trying to jump 52 semis? Got it.
Overdosing heroin junkie, lavatory death chamber, Neal Cassady frequency road tripping fatality, Everest mountain climbing casualty: Whatever context they’re providing for establishing risk, it seems like the New York Times and their panel of expert consultants is basically just telling us to maintain the present course of being scared shitless all the time, which is pretty much the message they’ve been peddling all along.