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I'm a Doctor and Here's Why to Fear COVID Right Now

Don’t let the fatality rate trick you.

Over the last several months the COVID-19 fatality rate has decreased due to a number of factors. However, this doesn't mean that less people are dying as a result of the infectious virus. On Tuesday, the U.S. hit a grim milestone, reporting 1,707 deaths — the highest daily death toll since May 14. This recent surge of deaths should serve as a reminder that COVID-19 is still a "big deal" and much more deadly than the flu, says one top doctor. 

"When I hear people saying COVID-19 is not a big deal or that the mortality is low, it's infuriating," Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and expert in pandemic preparedness, explains to Eat This, Not That! Health. "I've seen many very sick and dying patients infected with COVID-19. This is not like the flu." Read on to hear more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

The Sheer Number of Deaths "is Staggering"

The 1918 pandemic had around a 2% mortality rate, and resulted in the deaths of more than 100 million people worldwide. "The mortality rate may sound low when you hear it but the sheer number of deaths this translates to is staggering," he points out. "2% is 20 times more fatal than seasonal flu, which has a mortality rate of .1%."

The mortality rate for coronavirus is somewhere between .5 and 2% overall, "but significantly higher for older patients and people with comorbid conditions," he explains. "Putting this in perspective, if half the country was infected with COVID-19—160 million cases total—it would result in about 1.6 million deaths. 

He explains that the decrease in the fatality rate over the summer is due to a variety of factors. One, is that the average age of infected patients decreased. Another, is that doctors found more effective treatment methods. "We are trying to avoid intubation if possible," he says. Also, the drugs decadron and Remdesivir have likely helped bring down mortality. "Decadron appears particularly effective for decreasing mortality in ventilated patients and oxygen dependent patients," he explains. "Remdesivir is not clearly effective in decreasing mortality but possibly has an effect."  

Unfortunately, if COVID-19 cases continue increasing at the alarming rate we have seen over the last several weeks, the number of deaths will trend in the same direction and "mortality will still be significant in spite of improving treatment modalities and management."

In summary: Just because the fatality rate is lower, more people are becoming infected — which means the death toll will continue to surge and break records on a daily basis. 

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says Most People Did This Before Catching COVID

How to Survive the Pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, stay outdoors more than indoors. "We have seen what happens when you don't do that by the very unfortunate experiences that have become very public now in the United States. I mean, that's proof positive," says Dr. Anthony Fauci. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah
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