You know by now that nothing about the coronavirus is predictable. Yet in order to plan for each and every scenario, the CDC and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response have just crafted Pandemic Planning Scenarios that “are designed to help inform decisions by modelers and public health officials who utilize mathematical modeling.” One of these scenarios, dubbed Scenario 5, “represents a current best estimate about viral transmission and disease severity in the United States.” And it includes a guesstimate about what percentage of those in your age group will die from COVID-19.
- If you are 65 and older: The CDC says 1.3% of those your age range who are symptomatic could die if they get coronavirus.
- Of those aged 50-64, 0.2% could pass away.
- If you are 49 and under: The CDC says that 0.05% of symptomatic people in your demographic could die.
They also estimate that 0.4% of people who have COVID-19 symptoms could die.
What Does This Mean for You?
First, there are some caveats from the CDC.
“The parameter values will change as more data become available,” says the agency. Additionally, they:
- Are estimates intended to support public health preparedness and planning.
- Are not predictions of the expected effects of COVID-19.
- Do not reflect the impact of any behavioral changes, social distancing, or other interventions.”
Yet since they are “scenarios are intended to advance public health preparedness and planning,” it’s best to assume they are correct as you judge how to move throughout your day. The best case scenario is that you can personally help lower the fatality rate.
How You Can Save a Life—Including Your Own
“The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus,” says the CDC. “The most common way to become infected with COVID-19 is via droplet spread,” says Dr. Deborah Lee, a medical writer for Dr Fox. “The virus starts off its life inside in a droplet of mucoid secretion inside the lungs of a person who is already infected. When this person breathes out, this respiratory droplet is released into the air, and if you are standing next to this person—in the supermarket line, for example—this infected droplet perhaps lands on your lip, mouth, or nose. When you next bite your nails, lick your lips, or breathe in through your nose, the virus hops inside your mouth or nasal cavity. You could also, of course, just inhale the droplet directly into your lungs.”
She goes on: “The virus has spikes on its surface called receptors. It hooks onto your cells, sticks to them, and then physically enters the cell. It then uses your own cell machinery to divide and reproduce, killing your cell in the process. After the virus has reproduced, hundreds of new viral particles are released on the lung surface ready to go off and invade more lung cells and destroy them.”
You can take steps to slow the spread. Advises the CDC:
- “Maintain good social distance (about 6 feet). This is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.”
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.