By John Barlow, Charlotte

Perspectives on humble pie

Kendra Bowen presents recent COVID-19 case rates to argue we are no better off in Vermont compared to Texas or Florida (Charlotte News November 18, 2021). She suggests our sacrifices and inconveniences were excessive, and implies Vermont might have accepted more COVID-19 exposure driving higher rates of natural immunity; that if we had listened to others, Vermont would be in the same place we are today, with fewer negative impacts. I consider the long view and disagree. Data on cumulative cases and deaths by state are available.

Here are COVID-19 cases and deaths from March 2020 to November 20, 2021 for the three states she compares:

  • Texas: population 29,730,311; 4,296,397 cases; 73,276 deaths; 145 cases and 2.46 deaths per 1,000 people.
  • Florida: population 21,944577; 3,721,503 cases; 61,081 deaths; 170 cases and 2.78 deaths per 1,000 people.
  • Vermont: population 623,251; 46,449 cases; 404 deaths; 74 cases and 0.64 deaths per 1,000 people.

Vermont has experienced half or less of the total cumulative cases per capita compared to Texas or Florida and approximately 25% of the deaths. Vermont is also better off than Texas or Florida for total COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita. This means our hospitals were better able to address non-COVID related issues compared to other states. These numbers came with costs that are difficult to quantify: reduced human contact, mental health impacts, economic losses, etc. The cumulative benefits of our collective actions are that a lower proportion of Vermonters died or were hospitalized during the past 21 months. These benefits should motivate our continued individual contributions to reduce viral transmission in our communities. Kendra Bowen and I agree on important points—continue to encourage vaccines and masking, stay home if you feel sick; I add, continue to practice social distancing and utilize testing when appropriate.

John Barlow
Charlotte