According to the government population clock right now, the U.S. population is over 329 million people. At the time of this writing, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is 143,000 and deaths from the virus stand at just over 2,500. Now, let’s look at numbers for a moment.
The death rate from COVID-19 in the U.S. (under these current numbers) would be 1.75%. That is, 1.75% of everyone that contracts the virus dies from it. In comparison, the death rate from seasonal flu is around 0.1%, so, in perspective, this virus is something like 10 times worse. (Please note. If, as is likely, there are far more cases that are undiagnosed and, therefore, unreported, then the actual death rate number will drop markedly. If there are actually 25% more cases than have been reported, for instance, the death rate would drop from 1.75% to 1.5%. You get the idea.) Still, the numbers are not as frightening as we’re being told. A death rate of less than 2% is nothing like the death knell we’re being fed that sounds a lot like, “Retreat! Retreat! We’re all gonna die!!” But the numbers are also misleading because they’re only in terms of those who get the virus. Factoring in the population versus the infected, currently 0.04% of the population has contracted the virus and 0.0008% have died from it. That is, 8 out of every million people have died from it. In comparison, in 2017 the death rate in the U.S. from cancer was 1,525 per 1 million people. In 2017 suicides accounted for a death rate in the U.S. of 140 per 1 million people. Death by accidents were 494 per 1 million people. In perspective, then, death by accident was 61 times the rate this virus is killing. To put it another way, you are 61 times more likely to die by going for a drive than by contracting COVID-19. (For an interesting piece on the numbers, read this one from a doctor of pathology at The Spectator.)
It is true that people are dying. It is true that it is sad and frightening and hard on us all. It is true that we ought to take precautions to avoid contracting this virus. All this is true. But what is also true is that we already have death rates exceeding by far what this virus is doing and we’re hardly batting an eye over them. Smokers contract lung disease at an approximate rate of 30%, but we’re still letting them smoke. People die every day from auto accidents, but we’re still operating motor vehicles. The number one cause of deaths in the world last year was abortion, but we’re still aborting babies and defending the right to do so. This is not rational. This is not consistent with the facts.
But, look, this doesn’t really help, does it? I mean, are we really going to operate on statistics and numbers? Of course not. We’re going to listen to the media and listen to the voices around us and panic if necessary because that’s what we do. So I’m speaking right here and now to a smaller group of “us” — the U.S. I’m speaking to those who have a living relationship with Christ. I’m talking right now to those who know the Sovereign God. Who are you going to listen to? Who are you going to believe? We are told in Scripture that we are upheld by God, supplied by God, sustained by God. We are told that God is in charge, that His will is always carried out. We are told that no one can stand against Him and, as such, against us. Not even COVID-19. Who are you going to believe? Take precautions? Sure. That’s prudent. We don’t need to infect other people or frighten them unnecessarily. But if we are 1) ignoring the simple numerical facts and 2) ignoring God’s Word on God’s character and think we’re being wise, we need to reconsider. We of all people can love others fearlessly at this time. And we ought to.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psa 23:4)