In mid-May of last year, I wrote a post responding to COVID-19, including some predictions, but especially about people’s reactions to it. If you’re interested in reading it, click here: https://keithpetersenblog.com/2020/05/12/a-christian-response-to-covid-19/ Obviously, a lot has happened since then in terms of our understanding of it, so it’s time for an update.
To begin with, let’s lay out some facts, beginning with mental-health issues. One thing that I had thought would be on the rise is the U.S. suicide rate, but to my surprise, it actually dropped 5.6% from 2019 to 2020; on the other hand, preliminary studies indicate that the suicide rate among blacks and other people of color increased from previous years in some specific communities. Whether that is the case nationally is not yet known. Regarding depression: from January-June of 2019, 11% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression; in January of this year, 2021, that number was 41%. Given the huge increase, I went back to the original source to confirm it. Regarding kids: in late 2020, 31% of parents surveyed reported their children’s mental/emotional health was worse than before the pandemic; in a similar survey, 46% of teens were worse. A lot of this has to do with the lockdowns that almost all of us have experienced; thankfully, in many states, lockdowns have been lifted, at least in part.
Here are some facts about mortality rates: significantly more kids (0-17) have died from the flu than COVID-19. During the 2019-2020 flu season, 188 American kids died from the flu, but as of August 2020, only 90 American kids had died from COVID. Stats are not yet available for 2020-2021, but this still confirms what we knew early in the pandemic: the COVID mortality rate for kids is extremely low. In regard to the Delta variant: while it appears to be about twice as contagious as the original COVID strain, there are early indications that it is less deadly (in general, not just for kids) than the original. In addition, the overall COVID mortality rate is around 2%.
Regarding vaccinations: unfortunately, they have become extremely politicized, thanks in large part to the Biden administration’s strong urging of all Americans to get vaccinated. There is also continuing talk of vaccine passports. However, there is a recent study out of Israel, with a very large number of people, that suggests natural immunity gives significantly better protection than the vaccine(s). In other words, if you have previously contracted COVID and recovered, you are much better protected than if you have been vaccinated but have never had COVID. (Don’t worry; I’m not suggesting a “let’s get COVID party!”) This means that those who are pushing everyone to get vaccinated are most definitely not “following the science.” The continuing high-risk groups continue to be the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. However, not all elderly people should be vaccinated; one of my best friends, who is elderly and not in great health, has been told by his doctor that he should not get the vaccine because it could kill him! It has become increasingly obvious that vaccination should be a choice.
In summary: mental-health issues are significantly on the rise, at least in part due to lockdowns; mortality rates for kids are very low, there are indications that the Delta variant is less deadly in general than the original strain, and the overall mortality rate is only 2%; natural immunity gives better protection than vaccination. All of this suggests to me that governments should give more freedom, not less, although I understand hospitalization rates need to be taken into account as well. In the past month, I have heard two experts say something like this: We may have to learn to live with COVID. Now, there is wisdom! What they mean is that given how widespread it is, and the fact that there are already eight variants, it may be around forever. As I have thought about this, one implication is that we may have to get used to COVID in the same way we have gotten used to the flu; there may be an annual COVID vaccination against the most prominent variant, for example.
I understand that people don’t like uncertainty, but as a Christian, I know that God is in control. Last year I wrote about how for those of us who are Christians, we should not be afraid or anxious. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you find yourself anxious and fearful–for any reason, not just COVID concerns–take these verses to heart.