Analyst Corner

COVID-19 FEAR vs Known Facts Known for USA

With all the panic that is out there, we thought it would be prudent to provide some perspective from  the data to give people a reference point.  A couple of notes.  First, this was based on data reported through Saturday.  Secondly, the figures associated here assume that the US cases would be as high as in Hubei Province, China.  What that means is these equations estimate that 381,322 people in the US would get the virus and tragically 17,297 Americans would die from the effects.  Finally, this is not meant to be a commentary on how “real it is” or a commentary on government response or the value of social distancing.  We support all of these things.

The ONLY purpose for this note is to provide some reference points to known risks we live with every day in hopes that it helps allay some of the fears and panic behaviors we are seeing out there.  This may be a very conservative approach or not conservative based on your view, but these are the known facts.  Totally understand that.  There are some links below with more data if you want to run your own calculations.

So with that, what is the data we have showing?

For this exercise we went back to ground zero of the COVID-19 breakout which is in Hubei Province, China (where the city of Wuhan is located).  We used the fully released infection and death rate in Hubei as a basis (as has been well reported, the rate is going down but not gone).  With this as the reference we would expect to see 381,322 people catch the virus (assuming social distancing does not slow things).  So if 381,322 people catch the virus, how does that compare to other data such as car accidents and heart attacks in the general population.

When you run the numbers it shows that even at these levels the average American is 22.6x more likely to have a car accident, 6.9x likely to be injured in an auto accident, or 2.7x more likely to have a heart attack this year than catch the virus.  The math is below the chart.  

The Math

Hubei Province, China

  • Population of Hubei Province – 58.5m people, Wuhan about 11m
  • Number of confirmed cases – 67,790 (.12% of population) as of 3/14/2020
  • Number of confirmed deaths – 3,075 (.053% of population and 4.54% of confirmed cases)


Auto Accidents in US Annually

  • US Population in 2019 – 329.1m people
  • US Auto Wrecks Annually – 6 million wrecks, estimated 1.5 people per wreck or 9 million people (2.74% of population) involved in an auto wreck annually.
  • US Auto Wreck Injuries Annually – 3 million (.91% of population) 33% of all people in wrecks
  • US Auto Wreck Deaths annually – 38,800 (.01% of population), (.43% someone dies every 232.6 accidents)


Heart Attacks as percentage of total population annually 

  • US Population in 2019 – 329.1m people
  • Heart Attacks/Strokes in US per year – 1.5 million annually (.43% of population of all ages will have a heart attack this year)
  • Heart Attacks/Stroke Deaths per year – 210,000  (.06% of population), (14% of those who have a heart attack/stroke die)

(Certainly this is entire population 0-100+ and rate of Heart Attack and Stroke is much higher for those 50 an over and much less for those below this age.  This is same phenomenon as COVID-19.  The math is out there if you want to do the work but I believe the conclusions will be similar.)

Bottom line, be diligent, social distance and take all precautions.  But I hope this provides a little perspective to help frame things for you.  You can get it. I can get it.  A friend of mine has already tested positive.  At the same time, another colleague with 7 children in his mid-40’s by all appearances in good health died of an aneurysm over the weekend in an incredibly tragic incident.

Bottom line: the cases will go up before they go down, yes.  And sadly, more people will get it and more people will die….but chances are it won’t be you and it won’t be your family or the people you love. And the data just doesn’t support the level of panic at the stores.

Final note, if for some reason you don’t like the data assumptions here based on Hubei, ping me through the Contact Us portion of our website here and I will send you the spreadsheet I used so you can replace with your own sample on the virus.  Data from the Princess Cruise Ship is now available here.  Or you can use Italy’s data.  Keep in mind what is not disputed although it affects people of all ages, it affects older people at much more serious rates than younger people.  The average age in the US is 38 years old.  The average age on the cruise was 58 and the average age in Italy is 53 for reference.  The average age in China is 37  (do not have a source for average age in Hubei).  Other sources are below.

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Sources for the data:

Hubei COVID-19 Data

US Auto Accidents

US Heart Attach and Stroke Data