In grade school in the early 1960s teachers taught the concept of karma, that our fates are decided and so out of our hands.
Looking down from a winding road at a crashed bus, a man was asked if guardrails could have prevented the terrible crash and resulting loss of life.
"Quite possibly, but it is karma," he replied.
Global statistics starkly show that the United States, compared to other affluent nations, is performing poorly in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in more cases and more deaths in relation to population than any other nation in the world.
And the high numbers aren't the result of the U.S. testing more, it's a result of leadership ignoring its scientists and physicians and not following a clear and aggressive policy.
“From the very beginning, this outbreak has really been mismanaged in terms of what the government response should have been,” Johns Hopkins infectious disease specialist Amesh Adalja told a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter for the article, “The lessons Canada can take from the U.S.’s mishandling of Covid-19.”
On President Donald Trump's assertion that the U.S. case count is high because of more effective testing, that's partially true, but not in a good way.
In the U.S., one in 17 tests positive. In Canada, that ratio is one in 110.
The United States lagged well behind Canada and most other developed nations in taking the COVID-19 threat seriously, and began aggressively testing much later as well.
Had the testing begun at the outset, cases would have been identified as they occurred. By starting the testing later, you get the cumulative total, resulting in a higher positivity rate, the ratio of positive results to tests administered.
According to Johns Hopkins, if a positivity rate is too high, "it may indicate that the state is only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities."
A low rate of positivity in testing data can be seen as "a sign that a state has sufficient testing capacity for the size of their outbreak."
The World Health Organization recommends a positivity rate of five percent or lower for a period of at least 14 days before giving consideration to easing social distancing restrictions and reopening economies.
As of 3 a.m. EDT today, 24 U.S. states have positivity rates higher than five percent, including Idaho, ranked the tenth highest. Arizona, Florida and Nevada are the top three, in order, with Arizona above 20-percent. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, has a 100-percent positivity rate.
"When I look at the U.S. scenario, it's almost like watching a train wreck in slow motion, because a lot of it is quite predictable, mostly because they were really, really behind on getting testing started," Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease physician at the University of Alberta, told the CBC. "They're expanding their testing now, but the percent positivity of their test is still going up, which is horrifyingly scary."
Nations that practiced what their scientists and physicians preached, enforcing social distancing, masks and personal hygiene from the outset are now slowly easing out of the constraints and restrictions.
The U.S., having started late and ended early, may now have little choice but to reinstate even more strict isolation protocols for a longer period of time or, as is more likely given the current political climate, simply watch on as a virus takes its full toll.
Meanwhile, Montana, with a population of 960,566, about seven folks per square mile and one of the nation's lowest positivity rates, added 56 more COVID-19 cases between 10 a.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. today, six of them in Flathead County, bringing the total count to 919. Of them, 609 have recovered and 22 have perished.
Idaho, with a 2020 population expected to surpass 1.75-million and a density of about 20 people per square mile, has not updated its case counts since Saturday, but last counted 171 new cases to bring the total count to 5,319. The next update is 5 p.m. today.
Just north of us, British Columbia, with a 2019 population of 5.07-million just under five people per square kilometre (about 13 per square mile), counted 10 new cases Friday for a total of 2,878 cases. Of those, 2,545 recovered and 174 have died.
The U.S. count as reported by the Centers for Disease Control is 2,504,175 as of Sunday, up 44,703 from the day before, with 125,484 deaths, 508 on Saturday. As of 8:33 a.m. today, Johns Hopkins reports 2,557,980 total U.S. Covid-19 cases and 125,864 dead and 685,164 recovered.
In Canada, 218 new cases were reported Sunday. Johns Hopkins this morning reports 105,293 total cases, with 8,583 deaths and 68,562 recovered.
Worldwide, 10,189,350 have been infected with novel coronavirus, with 502,802 dead and 5,167,274 recovered.