If we follow 80/20, most of us can return to (almost) normal. We just need to go out of our way to accommodate those in peril.
1% of people carry 50% of COVID risk. China’s Center for Disease Control issued this age chart:
80% of COVID deaths are people over 60. Half are over 70.
So the #1 COVID 80/20 is age.
The #2 COVID 80/20 is underlying health problems:
The 3rd COVID 80/20 is dense urban areas. Viruses like close neighbors.
Source: Johns Hopkins Interactive Map
If you’re over 60; if you have underlying health problems; if you live in a big city… you’ve got a bullseye on your head. You need to take MAJOR precautions.
On the other hand if you’re healthy and under 50; if you live in a smaller city or town… you’re probably wondering what everybody’s wringing their hands about.
Some folks in rural areas think this is a hoax. It’s not. I live in Cook County Illinois (Chicago). Halfway between O’Hare and Midway airports (international airports are an additional risk). Here, 1 out of 150 people have COVID.
1% of the US population bears 50% of the risk.
So… how do we “let out the clutch,” crawl out of our caves and get back to work?
1) People like myself in dense urban areas must take strong precautions. Social distancing, masks, hand washing. Avoid crowds at all costs.
2) My friend Elizabeth is in her mid 50s and has immune problems. She has to be stringent about Shelter In Place. So do ALL her family members, including her kids. Even though kids rarely catch the virus.
3) People under 40 in small cities, small towns and rural areas can probably return to normal fairly soon. They just need to be extra considerate of people like Elizabeth.
4) It’s far less costly to deliver food and other services (like unemployment benefits) to Elizabeth than shut down half the economy. People like her need extra support and cooperation. We can all spare the expense.
The tricky part is… it’s not “fair.” (80/20 is by definition unfair.) Which means the fastest path back to normal requires self discipline… and laws by local authorities that discriminate by age, medical conditions, and geography. Such rules will infringe on personal freedoms.
But it also means if 5% of us take extra precautions, 2/3 of this problem gets solved… fast.
This isn’t merely a question of government policy. As businesses open up and people begin to travel, we must all be honest with ourselves about how many COVID 80/20s we fall into.
Over 60 – Immune Issues – Big City. How many COVID 80/20’s apply to you?
I’m low risk health-wise. But I’m in a crowded suburb between two major airports… so while the virus is not likely to take me out, it’s got its eye on Elizabeth.
If you’re healthy and want to get back to business as usual, how do you protect your Elizabeths?
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