In the past 11 years, I’ve given more than 1,400 public presentations on healthcare costs, the ACA, how Washington, D.C., manages your healthcare, and how health insurance changes in response. Some of those speeches and compliance workshops don’t really stick with me. A few of them really do.
Like the one in 2016 when I gave a class on the ACA to a most interesting convention down in New Orleans – 2,000 present members of the National Society of Mathematicians and Physicists. The day that I spoke, I think every one of them was in the same hotel ballroom. All I kept thinking was, “If anything happens to this room and these people, will the country shut down?”
Think about how math drives everything we do, from power plants, to Wall Street, to every computer system we use. Even medicine. It is literally indispensable.
It’s getting clear that the COVID-19 vaccines are rapidly becoming just as indispensable to our nation’s economic progress. In the spirit of those mathematicians and physicists, I’d like to take you on a little ride down the mathematics highway, where we’ll use hard numbers to talk about Louisiana and the impact COVID-19 has on us.
Buckle Up For the Ride
The U.S. Census Bureau says Louisiana’s population is 4,657,757 (latest numbers). Let’s start there.
As of July 27, 2021, there are 1,706,544 of us fully vaccinated (the vaccine is currently available to everyone 12 and over). This means our state is 36.6% vaccinated, or to put it another way, 63.4% UNVACCINATED. So almost two out of every three people you meet in your normal day is NOT fully vaccinated.
Another 201,897 people (4.3%) have received their first shot of the vaccination series as of this week. Once they get their second shots, we’ll be at 40.9% of us vaccinated. This is better, but not good enough.
So, how are we doing compared to the rest of the nation?
Not so good. Only two states have a smaller percentage of their populations vaccinated than Louisiana does. The highest states are running over 66% of their population fully vaccinated. Vermont has the highest rate among states.
What does this difference mean? I mean, what does it really matter how many people take the shots or not?
It’s All Math
Let’s do some simple comparisons between Louisiana, Vermont and the U.S. as a whole. We’ll take a look at the state that has vaccinated the most, nearly the least (that’s us) and the whole country for a baseline. It’s all math.
We have 1,391 people in the hospital with COVID-19 as of July 27, 2021,. That works out to 29.9 out of every 100,000 people in the state currently in the hospital with COVID-19.
When I compare that with Vermont, that state with 66% its population vaccinated, we don’t look very good. Today, they have five people in the hospital with COVID-19. Yep, FIVE. Now, Vermont is a smaller state; the population is only 648,560 people. That made it easier to vaccinate everyone, but their residents took action and got the shots. As a result, they only have 1.3 out of every 100,000 people in the hospital with COVID-19. Remember, we have 29.9 out of every 100,000 people.
Let’s go big for a moment. Let’s look at America as a whole and compare our stats to the entire country. To make this easier, I’ve created this handy table for you.
|% Fully Vaccinated
|Hospitalized Per 100k
|C19 Deaths in 2021
Yep, it’s math, sorry about that. But here’s the hard part:
Our state’s low vaccination rates correspond very closely to the number of people sick in the hospital with COVID-19. We have more than FOUR TIMES the national average. Our numbers of people in the hospital are 28 times higher than a state that embraced vaccination. That’s people who are very sick and needing intense treatment – for lack of a shot that is free and now widely available.
Our state’s low vaccination rates also correspond very closely to the number of people who are dying of COVID-19 today. Our death rate is almost THREE TIMES the national average and almost TWO HUNDRED TIMES higher than a state that has embraced vaccination. That’s Louisiana people DYING from what is now a preventable illness.
Nationally, only 3% of people in the hospital with COVID-19 are vaccinated. Less than 0.5% (that’s one half of one percent) of those dying of COVID-19 were ever vaccinated. At present, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is rampaging through Louisiana, and hospitals are filling up yet again. Our deaths per day from COVID-19 are back in double digits. We all know what the next steps will be: shutdowns, restrictions, layoffs, economic despair and basically a repeat of 2020. No fun.
We Can Change Our Odds
How do we make these horrible outcomes go away? My goodness, it’s so simple.
The Straight Talk is, math wins. Move yourself into the “fully vaccinated” column on my graph, and your problems get much, much smaller. It’s your decision, but if you get vaccinated, the math is clearly in your favor. You can avoid unnecessary hospital stays and even death. Our economy doesn’t backslide in the wrong direction. No closed businesses. No sadness or economic despair on a mass scale because of COVID-19, again.
Oh, and did I mention new variants of COVID-19 can only be brewed up in unvaccinated people? That’s ultimately where the next variant will come from – people who refused vaccination and are giving the virus a host body to mutate in and spread. Without higher vaccination numbers, that’s the next threat we will face.
So, we can just keep doing what we’re doing now and have another 2020 with new versions of COVID-19 coming down the pike. Or, you can do the math.
Your call. Either way, math wins.
NOTE: In addition to the math, there’s medical guidance. I’d really encourage you, if you have any questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, to talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider is there to advise you on the best way to stay safe and healthy, based on your personal situation. But, your choice to get vaccinated or not is critical, and it shouldn’t be made based on fear or on things you’re seeing and hearing that may not even be true.