According to the CDC, there have been 164,280 recorded deaths from COVID-19.

150,737 of those have been people over the age of 55.

That means 91.7% of deaths are from people over the age of 55. Of those, 94% had preexisting conditions.

Those are hard facts. The people most at risk are those who are already sick and who are over the age of 55. If you are younger than that and generally healthy, you have a lot less to worry about.

There are 328 million people in the USA. 96 million are over the age of 55. That means we have 220 million people for whom COVID-19 is likely to be nothing more than a bad flu. Even then, most would experience no symptoms at all.

Obviously, there are going to be people who do get very sick, and a very small number of those will die. That is also true of the regular flu, measles, chickenpox, or whooping cough.

Shutting everything down and locking ourselves away was understandable back in March. We didn’t know what we were dealing with. It’s impossible to make an informed decision without all the facts. Given the uncertainty the virus represented, extreme precautions were necessary. But is that still true today?

Anyone who is “guided by the science” has to admit that the gravest risk is for very elderly, already sick people. That’s why deaths are concentrated in nursing homes. However, there is a laundry list of illnesses – not just COVID-19 – that target elderly sick people.

So, what should we be doing? The easy answer is to protect the most at risk first, then get on with daily life. A vaccine would help. But it won’t be widely available for another six months, and that’s a best-case scenario.

Meanwhile, kids are losing valuable time in school, which they’re not going to get back. How about this? Many teachers are in their mid ’50s. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to give them early retirement and give jobs to younger, more energetic people?

In my book, that would kill two birds with one stone. It would demonstrate we care about older people. It would also get young adults off the street and into jobs. However, it will never happen because it may weaken the power of the unions.

Yesterday, I spoke with a friend who works for the gas company. The office he works at is on the 13th floor. The company estimated it would take three hours for everyone to take the elevator and remain socially distant. He will be working from home for the next four months, regardless of what happens with vaccine development.

It’s easy to say we are being “guided by the science,” but the reality is most companies are being guided by their insurance liability. They are much more scared of lawsuits than they are of the virus.

It doesn’t matter whether they’re worried about the loss of business or whether they have access to funds from the Paycheck Protection Program. The one thing every company wants to avoid is a lawsuit from disgruntled employees blaming the company for infections.

Unfortunately, this is an election year. Everything has been politicized. There is just no way to have a rational, civil conversation about risk and reward. It always comes down to who to blame. COVID-19 did not originate here, and we did not ask for it. The only thing we have control over is how we conduct ourselves. I long for common sense to prevail. It’s not going to happen.

Right now, one side wants to ignore the risk, while the other wants everyone to hold their breath until after the election. When the dust settles, we will look back on this episode and realize there is a lot we could have done better. Most of all, we will hopefully learn not to jump at shadows.

All the best,

Eoin Treacy