Change in perspective

Published October 2, 2020, 9:24 PM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

Those multidigit numbers collated by DOH either numb your skull or send you reeling, fueled by anxiety, panic now and again. After seven months of limitless restrictions on our movements and still we’re getting nowhere?

Senior citizens, classified as “vulnerable,” have been at the short end of the bargain. But not   for one superior senior, simply because he refuses to be cowed by numbers. Butch Valdes is a certified public accountant, economic analyst, political gadfly, and founder of a quixotic political party (Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino) that fielded a partial slate of senatorial candidates in the last two elections but failed to clinch a seat. As if he’s not beezy enough, he keeps thousands of bees in his garden and, sweetly but surely, they’re producing honey.

This background is necessary to explain why Butch V isn’t worried about DOH’s “response to COVID-19”:  He uses DOH’s own data to prove his point that its daily, frustrating (to read) reports of confirmed, active, and new cases in addition to deaths and recoveries should be taken in context. That death is a fact of life and it happens with or without a pandemic, although everyone would be better off without one.

For starters, there are on average 75 pneumonia deaths daily. Compare that with the 58 and 59  coronavirus fatalities on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, respectively, and your perspective changes. Higher than the incidence of pneumonia and COVID deaths are stroke victims, 170 a day, followed by heart attacks at 160.

Another numbers cruncher, ABS-CBN’s chief, data analytics, sees a sliver of light about to emerge. Math idol Edson Guido sees NCR figures leaning toward a drop in infections, from 60-70% of total cases nationwide to 40% (Oct. 1 report). ICU occupancy rates showed “real improvement,” from 70 down to 50%. The 12-13% positivity rate is now less than 9%, still a ways to go from WHO’s goal of 5%.

If all goes well – if everyone cooperates, out of fear or respect for others, let us say – “we could hope for a three-digit count of new COVID cases by Christmas.” But, cautions Edson, “it won’t be a good sign if we breach the 400,000 mark (of confirmed cases) by end-October.”

Edson’s message: It’s up to us.