Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Bakersfield teacher implores Gov. Newsom to close our schools. Do the math, she says, without protocols 10,000 people here may be infected by Easter and that is the "best case" scenario

A math teacher’s perspective on Covid-19: Even the best case mathematical scenario results in an over run system  

 By TAMARA CLARK          

A math teacher’s perspective on Covid-19: Even the best case mathematical scenario results in an over run system  
Exponents. Here we are, in the midst of the most pertinent exponent lesson we’ll ever have the displeasure of sitting through. However this time, the bell won’t ring after 55 minutes, freeing us of our mathematical woes. No, Covid-19 is here to stay. Perhaps we do not have any confirmed cases yet, but it’s closing in and fast. Exponents are one of those concepts that can be hard to wrap your brain around. If I save a penny on day 1 of the month and double my savings each day in 30 days I will have $5,368,709.12? That is correct.

This morning March 15, 2020 the Kern County Superintendent of Schools issued a statement reiterating their decision to keep schools in Kern County open. Governor Gavin Newsom took to the airwaves Sunday updating infection numbers to an increase of 14%; 335 confirmed cases and six
Covid-19 related deaths statewide. He also announced the closure of bars and wineries and for home isolation of citizens 65 and over. Closing public places is not enough. We need to close our schools, too.

Regardless of where your thoughts fall on these updates locally and by Governor Newsom, I urge you to consider the exponential reasoning explained here. Further, consider that these figures are reflective of the absolute BEST CASE scenarios as our heroic researchers and first responders work tirelessly to discover the truths and care for those affected by this infection. It is my assertion that we must not discount the documented courses of trajectory regarding Covid-19 in China and Italy and begin our community on the path to social distancing procedures immediately.

The below is what our city will look like in just 30 days, if, for the sake of this discussion, ONE patient tested positive in Bakersfield today and the absolute best case scenario of suggested infection ranges occurs. For every 1 case confirmed it is estimated by virologists at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital that between 10 and 50 exist that are positive for the infection and are unknowingly spreading the virus.

512 is the MOST CONSERVATIVE estimate of the serious life threatening cases (5% of the infected population) requiring ICU hospitalizations in Bakersfield within the next month. Yes, that’s if ONLY ONE patient tests positive today based on our population of 383,579.                                                      

Without social distancing protocols instituted immediately, there will, mathematically speaking, be 1,024 TIMES [not 10 times, 20 times, or even 100 times, but OVER 1000 times] the number of infected people in our city after only 30 days. In this best case scenario, 10,240 Bakersfield residents will be positive for the virus by Easter -- unless protocols to slow the spread are put into effect immediately.

The worst case scenario numbers are much larger, with a multiplier of 50 infected per 1 confirmed case, and the number of ICU critical patients (still assuming, on the lowest side of projections, 5% of those infected needing an ICU bed) would be 2,560 in Bakersfield and a total of 51,200 cases in our city alone.

Here is the real problem, as our seven local hospitals stand today, only a limited number of dedicated ICU beds exist. My research of public record indicates the number is currently in the low 100s. It won’t matter that the majority of the critical care beds will already be occupied by patients not suffering the extreme respiratory distress of Covid-19. The existing non-Corona patients will already be receiving monitoring and ventilation by the doctor, a respiratory therapist and nurse each critical care bed requires. Based on those percentages, even in the best case scenario above even if all ICU beds in the city became available and alternative outdoor shelters were in place, how could the system possibly offer those 512 Bakersfield residents needing critical ICU care?

Only if we now, today, put in place the CDC recommendations including social distancing measures of self quarantine, enhanced infection control in healthcare settings, long term financial crisis planning, and protocols to temporarily empower residents to impose movement restrictions upon themselves does our healthcare system have a chance to weather this. We are all going to have to give up a little to gain a lot in the long run. Why should you limit yourself and your routine if "the odds are in your favor" and you are not in a high risk category? What are the chances we will ALL know someone very personally that will be affected by this shortage of available care? 100%.

Perhaps it won’t be you or one of your children, or even your elderly family members with one of the 5% of Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalization. I’m betting if you’re in a car accident anytime soon your doctor will have been working 18 hour days for the last months because it was required to care for patients. Further complicating things, if you or someone you care about needs a ventilator to survive hospitals overseas are already reporting shortages and attempting to acquire more vents. Here in the U.S. hospital staff and administrators are working tirelessly in attempting to find what they can get their hands on. What if your elderly and ailing parent suffering from diabetes or a stroke goes into distress and may not receive care because the doctors, as widely reported in Italy, are having to make battlefield triage judgement calls on which patients have the best survival chances. In this triage scenario your elderly mom will not get the upper end of that argument when entering the emergency department next to a healthy forty year old father of three. The triage choices that Italian medical professionals are having to make are unfathomable, and they are happening now. It’s not just the elderly that are succumbing to this virus, the immunocompromised cancer patients or bone marrow recipients may not receive the specialized care required for their treatments to continue, let alone be successful. All of the above is currently happening in Italy, who had roughly the same number of infections we have today in the U.S., just weeks ago.  WE must start today.

Above all, let us be kind and empathetic towards one another as we travel this contagion path as a community.

Tamara Clark is a mother to 3 sons, wife to a local fire captain first responder, and 15 year vetern mathematics instructor.

The sole intention of my thoughts expressed here is to raise awareness of basic exponential growth mathematics in relation to peer reviewed published assertions of the heroic medical professionals that are working tirelessly to keep us safe and informed. The opinions expressed here are that of me personally and I have supported my mathematical reasoning with the work of respected researchers and leaders in the field of virology. I have researched the facts and figures included herein and anyone requesting citation is welcome to email me. Anyone, including the metia, is free to share these words, any related content, all or in part, for any purpose in any format with simple attribution to my name, and background if applicable. Please feel free to direct message me via email.

No comments: