The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Negative Covid19 Death Rate in the U.S.

Perhaps surprisingly, by the end of the day on March 25th the new coronavirus will be responsible for 173 net lives gained in the United States.

A pedestrian in New York City walks on an nearly empty Wall Street March 23, 2020. (CNS photo/Mike Segar, Reuters)

Covid19 is a dangerous virus, fatal for many. No one can know what the final death toll will be. It is therefore a requirement both of prudence (to avoid becoming infected oneself) and justice (to avoid infecting others) to take serious but reasonable precautions. There is legitimate debate on what that should mean in practice, and for how long. But what is not up for debate is that every human life is precious, and we are especially aware of that in regard to our close family, friends, and co-workers.

At the same time, it is not heartless—quite the opposite—to reflect on the Covid 19 virus, which is fatal almost exclusively to those who have already lived long lives, and to compare it with another contemporaneous cause of death, one which takes the lives of those who will never experience life outside the womb.

Perhaps surprisingly, by the end of the day on March 25th the new coronavirus will be responsible for 173 net lives gained in the United States.

On March 17th, the state of Ohio declared that surgical abortions do not qualify as “essential care”. On March 23rd, the state of Texas issued the same declaration.

In 2017, the last year for which data is available, there were 20,893 abortions in Ohio and 55,440 abortions in Texas. On average, there were more than 150 abortions per day in Texas and 57 per day in Ohio.

By March 25th, the Ohio ban will have been in effect for 8 days, and the Texas ban for two days. Approximately 456 deaths due to abortion will have been prevented in Ohio and 300 lives saved in Texas, for a total of 756 deaths prevented.

On March 24th, there had been 9 Covid19 fatalities in Texas and 6 in Ohio, for net gains in those states of 291 lives and 450 lives respectively. There were 583 Covid19 fatalities in the US, for a net gain of 173 lives. By the end of the week there will be twice as many lives saved as deaths due to Covid19.

These calculations have some margin of error. Average abortions per day is not the same as actual abortions on any given day. Some women will simply postpone their abortions until the ban is no longer in effect. Others may travel to a nearby state. And Covid19 deaths per day will increase until a peak is reached, and no one can be certain when that inevitable peak will occur.

Nevertheless, it is certain that at this stage of the epidemic, more lives have been saved than lost. Every human life is precious; but the death rate in the United States as a result of Covid19 and the societal response to it is certainly negative.


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About Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. 8 Articles
Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., is the founder and editor of Ignatius Press.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you. I was wondering about this yesterday when I learned that Planned Parenthood is being considered an essential business in the states that have ordered lock-downs, and Ohio had closed them down much to the consternation of the usual suspects. Lemonade anyone?

  2. Lockdown can benefit unborn lives indicated by Fr Fessio’s death rate statistical analysis. Wider indicators also seem to reveal the rationale for panicked urgency our worldwide culture has in saving one’s own life regardless of an accidental benefit to the innocent unborn – who will again be slaughtered mercilessly if and when the planet survives a pandemic with unknown ramifications [a rationale the Pres raised in concern for saving the world’s major economy the survival which will likely save many lives worldwide]. The Pontiff recently referenced the sin of offending Mother Earth, also included in his book of the same title. References in and outside of that treatise parrot former Franciscan priest Liberation theologian environmentalist Leonardo Boff. We’ve entered [the Church and society] into a self indulgent globalism, a comfort centered Darwinian survival of the fittest the healthy financially solvent and strong top of the food chain to infant created in God’s image at the bottom. I’m not alone [Prof Roberto DeMattei, Cardinal Gaultiero Bassetti Perugia Pres of the Italian Bishops Conf] in considering that Coronavirus pandemic is divine retribution. I find it difficult to think such a catastrophic world event is mere accident like the falling tower of Siloam. That the Church is shut down and we’re shut out during the most solemn of Liturgies.

  3. Every tragedy seems to have an upside & praise God that during these quarantines, feticides will cease in some locations.
    And while it’s true that the great majority succumbing to the virus are the elderly with existing health issues, our state which has seen a number of fatalities in folks under 60. One poor young woman in her 30’s was found dead on her kitchen floor by her boyfriend. They had just taken a walk together the day before.
    An attorney in his 40’s was in an induced coma on a ventilator. Both of these folks had no previous health concerns.
    Even if a younger person doesn’t die from the virus they can still end up in the ICU & their lungs may sustain permanent damage.
    I didn’t take this virus as seriously as I should have in the beginning due to virtually every early death report coming from nursing home patients but that’s been changing as the epidemic progresses. Absolutely no one should be complacent.

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