Ten days ago, New York City’s Department of Health website began displaying an empty space for the number of daily deaths from COVID-19 on August 27th, presumably indicating that for the first time since the start of the pandemic daily deaths have begun measuring at zero.
But before we join in the public celebrations that are scheduled to be held throughout the city as part of its reopening, shouldn’t we ask ourselves:
If the only acceptable number of COVID-19 deaths is 0…
”… if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”
— Governor Andrew Cuomo
… then why shouldn’t we apply this same standard, no longer dismissable as mere hyperbole, to other leading causes of death that are made possible by choices and actions that Governor Cuomo could make illegal?
Number of deaths annually for leading causes of death (national):
Heart disease: 647,457
COVID-19 (as of 9/5/2020): 174,470*
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
*94% with an average of 2.6 comorbidities, i.e., the number of deaths that are actually caused, directly or indirectly, by COVID-19 is somewhere between 6% of this number (10,468) and 100% of this number (174,470)
What about the 32,000 deaths per year directly caused from the unintentional injuries otherwise known as automobile accidents? Why should reasonable precautions, such as seat belts and airbags, that merely reduce deaths to this number, be enough? Couldn’t we save, not just one, but thousands of lives by passing a new law that reduces speed limits by 10 miles per hour? But why should those of us who care about saving lives, like me — unlike those of you who disagree with me, who don’t — stop there? How about reducing speed limits by 20 miles per hour? Better yet, 30?
I’m an incredibly good person and would be capable of great leadership if I were Governor Cuomo, so I propose making the speed limit 0 to get the daily deaths down to 0, or — better yet — temporarily outlawing cars altogether. If it saves just one life (I’ll be happy). After we achieve that standard, perhaps we can begin to consider making the driving of automobiles legally allowable again, slowly, a little bit at a time, maybe starting with 5 miles an hour, and see what happens… but wait a minute… won’t that just cause the number of deaths to begin increasing again? Because we can’t develop immunity to automobile accidents… Maybe instead we should consider enacting more stringent new laws to make sure it stays at zero… just until it becomes safe again [no cognitive dissonance here]… actually, I like the latter idea better, but I’m not sure. I’ll wait to see what Governor Cuomo says during his 167th press conference on the subject tomorrow.
Wait a minute… you disagree with Governor Cuomo — err, I mean, me? Well, your so-called “right” to drive a car does not give you the right to kill me. Are you ashamed now? Good. I’m especially pleased I was able to shame you in front of your family, friends and co-workers, here on social media. I have no patience with people like you who ignore facts and science and don’t care if others die, just because you want to drive to work.
By the way, while we’re temporarily broadening the statistics we’ll allow ourselves to consider in our new, safe society, maybe we should speculate, privately, in our minds only, whether there might possibly be an increase in “intentional self-harm” after months or years of lockdowns, business failures, school closures, masks and social distancing, and what that number might be? After all, one of the nation’s two experts (although not the nation’s leading expert), Dr. Redfield, has stated that the increase in deaths from suicides among young people since the lockdown began is already higher than the deaths among young people from COVID-19. Maybe, all things considered, since the new purpose of my life since the loss of my career is to reduce the chances that anyone else might die, whether or not I am the cause, I should weigh this when considering what should be a proper public policy?
I’ll wait to see what Dr. Redfield says. He’s an expert (although not the leading expert). I’m just a drummer. I’ve never studied virology as he has. Plus he’s head of the CDC. That stands for “The Center for Disease Control.” He knows what to do better than me. Then I’ll think what he tells me to think and I’ll do what he tells me to do. After all, my right to free speech does not give me a right to think for myself and publicly contradict one of the nation’s two health experts. Doing that could kill people, and I’d be responsible. And then I’d have to write a new essay, recanting everything. What a burden.
Anyhow, I don’t want this inappropriate thought process to ruin an opportunity to congratulate the Governor again on his leadership. I would like to contribute to the celebration by performing with my band at his event to be held at New York’s prestigious Gotham Hall ballroom, which hasn’t yet been turned into a space for public school children and funeral memorials, but unfortunately, the performance of live music, if listened to, was made illegal by the Governor a few weeks ago. Plus, what if some of the revelers were to dance? No way I want that on my conscience.
I guess I’ll do the next best thing and celebrate alone while sheltering in place in my apartment, keeping my mask on, as I see some people doing when they’re driving alone in their cars. That’s what’s safest for others (apart from the part about driving their cars) and I don’t want to be selfish. I’m still able to afford to buy store-brand beer from Trader Joe’s with the unemployment check the Governor deposited into my bank account. I’ll celebrate by enjoying one of those.