A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Why the public has not panicked over corona

Written July 8th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

People at the June 2 demonstration in Albany did not seem frightened by the coronavirus outbreak.

Albany Councilman Rich Kellum wishes the media more often reported details about the corona crisis in addition to the daily toll of added cases and deaths. And there is more to report, all of it readily available in the data the Oregon Health Authority publishes online.

Kellum made his point at the end of the city council’s work session on Monday night. He’d like, for instance, to see reports on how many people stricken by the virus have regained their health.

On that, the public already has the basic idea. Lots of people in Oregon got the illness. More than 10,800 of them, at last report. And the death toll was 224. So roughly 10,600 have survived so far, and except for the few who will yet succumb, the vast number have recovered or are on the way.

The Health Authority has many other numbers in its website. Statewide, coronavirus cases have amounted to about 25 per 10,000. Of those who got it, the death rate has been 2 percent.

Statewide, the level of corona testing is up to 651 persons per 10,000 population. Ninety-six percent of the tests have come back no corona. In the other 4 percent, the virus turned up.

In Linn County the numbers are comparable: 165 cases in a population of 126,000; 78 recoveries, 157 positive tests (no explanation why that number is slightly different from total cases), and 7,158 negative tests.

The same for Benton: 98 cases, 38 recoveries, six deaths, 86 tests that were positive and 6,327 that were not.

The numbers explain why people in the mid-valley, while many suffer economically, are not in a panic about their health despite the drumbeat of corona news. The numbers show  that — perhaps because of all the precautions and restrictions, perhaps for other reasons as well — you were not likely to catch the virus, and in the unlikely event that you did, you were almost sure to survive. (hh)

I’ve edited the story to take out a sentence about recovery statistics because it was wrong. 

14 responses to “Why the public has not panicked over corona”

  1. Bob Zybach says:

    Thanks Hasso: While this disease has posed no threat to almost all Oregonians, the social and economic effects have been devastating. The government overreach has been revealing as our elected officials have called for draconian measures — apparently to demonstrate their power and show off for their counterparts across the nation. These actions would not have been tolerated — or even possible — just a few years or decades ago. What happened to “the land of the free?” We’ve all been subjected to the rule of petty despots focused on straws, plastic bags, face masks and the closures of our schools, businesses, parks, churches, synagogues, beaches, and bars. And for what purpose or result? Because they can? Hopefully there will be a public review of these policies and the people who invented them. Not holding my breath, though.

  2. John Klock says:

    And for the Black Live Matter march June 2 photo you showed, by and large most people were wearing masks. Where we are now is this: mask, 6 feet apart, and outside is fairly safe. And the science says masks save lives. Masks reduce transmission. Masks work.

    • Bob Zybach says:

      John: I’m not sure who “the science” is that you are quoting or what kind of “work” the masks are doing, but how do they “reduce transmission” among people who have no illness to begin with? This has looked too much like “virtue signaling” and “political power” from the beginning, for my taste. I think far more damage is being done by government in this process that the coronavirus could ever do. In my opinion.

      • HowlingCicada says:

        “””… how do they “reduce transmission” among people who have no illness to begin with?”””

        Asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmitters — people who don’t know they’re infected. States like AZ, TX, FL have re-imposed lockdowns, largely because of those people.

        By all means make your case about economic harm from business closing. But don’t confuse that with mask requirements which have very little economic impact (well, maybe they make bar-hopping less appealing). Pro-business groups want clarity on mandatory masks instead of the current wishy-washy mess most evident in conservative areas:

        Science? Any search shows wide consensus that masks reduce transmission; possible but less likely benefit to the “receiver.” Therefore mandatory masks in public indoor places is good policy, much like pollution controls on motor vehicles — better and cheaper than trying to clean-up the air afterward.

        Good article on the history of mask recommendations with source links:

        • Bob Zybach says:

          Hello Mr. Howling Cicada: Great name, but I rarely respond to likely pseudonyms. In your case, I’m hoping that is your actual name. I need to make one point that keeps getting lost in too many discussions and media “bombshells.” “Science” and “consensus” have very little to do with one another. And really should have nothing to do with each other. “Consensus” is a political term and supposedly represents a voting majority in a democratic system. “Science” is a method for learning things and depends entirely on skeptics in order to function. “Testable hypotheses” and “scientific challenges” are important concepts. “Consensus” is political and mostly applicable to “politicized” (or “junk”) science applications. Also, FYI, the jury is still out regarding the “science” of face masks. Particularly in communities in which little evidence of the virus’ actual harm exists.

    • Al Nyman says:

      As somebody who owns a company that makes masks and is close to the 3M rep who states that 3M masks were designed for allergens and pollution help, masks when they get wet actually attract the virus. The only protection masks give is if a person with the virus wears one it protects other people but as I only know one person with the virus and they have no symptoms I suspect mask wearing is a feel good solution for our liberal governors. Furthermore, close to 7 million people ride mass transit in New York City and millions would have the virus if it was an airborne problem no matter what is being reported by 230 scientists who are 100% sure it is an airborne virus.

  3. chezz says:

    Mr. Zybach – you could be holding your breath for good. It ain’t pretty.

  4. Lundy says:

    In certain densely populated areas and among medically vulnerable populations, the virus is a pretty bad deal. For most of the rest of the American population, it’s not nearly as bad as the economic and social hardships the government actions have caused.

  5. Ray Kopczynski says:

    While volunteering at the Albany Carousel, I have had 2 specific encounters with folks claiming exemption and refusing to say what their medical reason was.


  6. Kurt says:

    Again, I disagree with minimizing the coronavirus. We in the Mid-Valley must be vigilant or else we’ll suffer the fate of other states in this county. It’s important to wear masks and follow the social distancing guidelines. There is a lockdown in Melbourne Australia going on right now and that country hasn’t even surpassed 10,000 cases, which our country does many times over in one day. How can so many people in our country keep putting their heads in the sand? This virus isn’t done with us, even if some are extremely fed up with it, and I’m sure we are all fed up with it. Someone asked an Australian official what he thought of the situation in the U.S., and he said that he could only look at the situation in the U.S. with horror.
    There are makeshift morgues being prepared already in Arizona, at this moment. I strongly encourage Oregonians and residents of Mid-Valley to take this virus seriously. I know of two people that have died from this virus, one in this state and one back east. It’s shameful how so many people have no regard for their health or their fellow countryman’s health.


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