Mike McCarthy. (Photo provided)

Mike McCarthy. (Photo provided)

Point of View: COVID -19: How does a person know what to believe?

Over the past year relatives and friends have given me COVID-19 information that when researched has proven to be inaccurate or even false. I have combined my personal knowledge gained from five weeks of traveling through much of Italy this past September and October with research of pandemics historical and current.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS CoV-2, and all variants are still a virus. All viruses are equal opportunity diseases that can infect Democrats, Independents and Republicans at random. There is an overload of information and misinformation out there. So how does a person know what to believe?

The late U.S. senator and diplomat Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”


COVID-19 is one of the 10 worst pandemics in the world, going back to the Black Plague of the 14th century, which killed an estimated 30% to 60% of Europe’s total population and lasted 50 years.

The COVID-19 virus is the deadliest respiratory virus pandemic since the 1918 Spanish flu, which lasted two years and killed an estimated 50 million people. Both of these viruses are transmitted through coughing and sneezing (Ohio State University, History Milestone: The 1918 Flu Pandemic).

Intense community transmission is continuing to occur and is causing significant illness, death and demand on the world’s health care system.

Comorbidity: COVID-19 can trigger a patient’s death when combined with preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular heart disease, hypertension, pulmonary disease, diabetes and obesity.

The delta variant is more transmissible than the initial COVID-19 variety.

The United States has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population at 46,860,883 cases and the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths at 770,000 in the world.

New Zealand has the least number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population at 10,176 cases and only 40 COVID-19 deaths. (New Zealand mandated a nearly 100-day lockdown and has nearly 90% of eligible adults vaccinated.)

The COVID-19 vaccine does not protect 100% of the recipients from contracting the disease, but it has an efficacy rate against infection in the 90th percentile or higher. It means some people are still going to become infected and potentially transmit the virus to others. The vaccinated certainly reduce the spread by a large amount. Vaccinated people are significantly less likely to contract the virus in the first place.

In Tennessee, 90% of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

On Nov. 15, Austria’s Chancellor Schallenberg ordered a nationwide lockdown for all non-vaccinated residents. A maximum fine of 1,450 Euros ($1,660 US) was invoked for violation of the lockdown.

He said, “It’s our job as the government of Austria to protect the people.” He also stated, ”There are only two ways for countries to slow the spread of COVID: build enough immunity or limit contact between other people.” (“Austria’s mandate says societal safety supersedes peoples’ individual right to say no, Reuters, Nov. 22, 2021).

On Nov. 22, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Span said, “By the end of this winter everyone in Germany will either be vaccinated, recovered or dead; 100,000 people will die from COVID-19 if nothing is done to halt this aggressive fourth wave.”

There were 30,643 infections in 24 hours, 7,000 more than a week ago. This is among the highest in the world (BBC News, Nov. 11, 2021).

According to BBC News, COVID-19 is continuing to spread around the world, with nearly 260 million confirmed cases and 5.1 million deaths across almost 200 countries. The United States, India and Brazil have the highest number of confirmed cases (BBC News, Nov. 22, 2021).

Some say wearing masks and mandatory vaccination is an infringement on their liberty and freedom of choice. This is wrong-minded thinking, because the preponderance of evidence supports public health restrictions over individual choice. For the sake of your families and your community, get vaccinated as soon as possible, because even though you have the right to get COVID-19, you don’t have the right to give it to others.

Michael McCarthy is a longtime Homer resident who holds a B.S. degree in Geology from Portland State University, 1970 and a retired registered geologist in Oregon. He also holds a M.S. degree in Administration of Justice from University of Portland, 1980. He is a retired police officer and detective with over 22 years in the criminal justice field in Oregon and Alaska.

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