(This post originally appeared on The Hill)
Over the weekend, a statistic was quietly reported by the UK’s Daily Mail that received very little attention. According to the country’s National Health Service, of the approximately 71,000 people who have died so far from COVID-19 through December 23, only 388 were under the age of 60 and had no pre-existing conditions, such as cancer or heart disease. It’s less than one-half of one percent of all deaths related to the coronavirus.
Just a reminder: This data comes from the UK’s National Health Service. This is not a media spin, a university study or a political analysis.
Why aren’t we hearing more about this? Why isn’t this number more publicized? Why don’t I see it anywhere in the U.S. headlines? It’s because the statistic runs counter to the current narrative that the coronavirus is rampant and killing people indiscriminately.
But it’s not so indiscriminate. It’s very targeted. And accepting this fact would be an embarrassment to our nation’s leaders and public health officials who have shut down our economy.
In England, small businesses from London to Newcastle have been shut down to stave off the virus. Many of these establishments will be permanently put out of operation. The economy is in a free-fall. The government is incurring devastating amounts of debt by way of unemployment, relief and other programs. And all of this carnage because of the 388 people under the age of 60 who died of this virus that had no pre-existing conditions.
388 people. In the entire country.
In the U.S., approximately, 329,000 people have died of this virus so far. Assuming that our demographics are similar, and there is little reason to believe otherwise, that means that only about 1,800 people under the age of 60 and with no other pre-existing conditions died because of the pandemic. More people this year will have died from gunshots, suicide, drowning and HIV, let alone homicides in our top 10 most violent cities.
Perhaps you’ll accuse me of being heartless, selfish, cruel, insensitive and ignorant. But I’m just reporting the data. Of course we should be doing everything we can to “flatten the curve” and allow our health care system to accommodate all of these COVID-19 cases. But shouldn’t our policymakers’ efforts be focused on just the older and more vulnerable? Keep these people locked down. Provide them with monitoring and care. Arrange home visits. Wear masks. Social distance. Fund awareness campaigns for the public. Prioritize vaccinations. But must we shut down the entire economy, put millions of people out of work, fall into ruinous debt and destroy countless small businesses in the process?
Not according to these numbers. These numbers tell a different story. They tell us that COVID is killing a very specific part of the population, a part that can be cared for without the drastic measures that have been taken.
But our government leaders – advised by health officials working with incomplete and often inaccurate data – have instead been panicking. And as a result of this panic, we are facing future crucial spending cuts and tax increases to ward off a potential default caused by ruinous deficits, and the decimation of our nation’s small businesses that employ more than half of our workers and who contribute half of our country’s GDP. One-third of small businesses in New Jersey have gone under, according to one report. One in six restaurants will be permanently shut, according to the National Restaurant Association. One-hundred thousand establishments have “disappeared” from Yelp.
Business owners across the country are not just fighting for their businesses. They’re fighting for their families, their communities and their employees’ jobs. They’re trying (and, unfortunately, failing) to make their political leaders understand that a more targeted approach to dealing with the pandemic that protects older and more vulnerable people (such as those with pre-existing conditions) is a much saner way to handle the problem than shutting down the economy. But no one seems to be listening to them. Instead, they’re accused of being selfish and uncaring. All they want is customers. They’re not allowed that.
But the numbers cannot be denied. Just 388 people under the age of 60 without pre-existing conditions in all of the UK have died of COVID-19. That’s a very sad statistic. And the more small business owners become aware of this data the angrier they will get.