Undoubtedly, you’ve seen people out in the world acting as if COVID-19 isn’t a problem. (First clue: They’re resistant to wearing a mask.) Some even say the pandemic is nothing but a hype, quoting the “low” death rate (anywhere from 0.3% to 1.5%) to support their argument. What they’re not appreciating—which you might be able to help them see—is the high transmission rate. An article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal quotes Eric Toner, MD, senior scholar of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security, as suggesting that while the death rate may appear low to the layperson, “it’s the combination of the fatality rate and the infectiousness that makes this such a dangerous disease.” So, when patients dismiss the notion that COVID-19 really is something that demands preventive measures and vigilance, remind them that 141,000 Americans have died from a virus most people never heard just 7 or 8 months ago. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now predicts that deaths related to COVID-19 will wind up among the top 10 causes of fatalities in the country for 2020. And if they think they’re invincible, remind them that many they come in contact with—and whom they could infect—are not.
What You Need to Tell Patients Who Scoff at the COVID-19 Death Rate