Is COVID Still Deadlier Than the Flu in the Hudson Valley?
We were curious to find out whether the threat from COVID is over, or at least low enough to feel comfortable ditching the mask for good.
It's pretty hard to get a straight answer when you talk to anyone on either side of the aisle when it comes to COVID-19. One group thinks it's a made-up disease, while the other says we should all be wearing hazmat suits for the rest of our lives. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and it's almost impossible to figure out what that is without someone butting in with their opinion.
Since restrictions were lifted earlier this year it appeared we were finally heading back to life as normal, but now there's talk about how the new Omicron variant is spreading, causing cases to once again rise.
So just how bad is COVID compared to the flu in the Hudson Valley?
First of all, comparing COVID to the flu can be a bit like apples to oranges. They're both very different viruses that are transmitted in completely different ways. However, we can look at some statistics to tell us just how deadly the current COVID situation is compared to an average flu season.
An active flu season has a death rate of about 18 per 100,000 New York residents or approximately 5,000 total deaths per flu season. In the first quarter of 2021, COVID-19 claimed over 10 times as many lives as influenza; a devistating 188 per 100,000 New York Residents. But that was the height of the pandemic when it was important to wear masks, social distance and take extreme precautions against getting and transmitting the disease.
So what about now? Is COVID still more deadly than the flu?
Unfortunately, it's not as easy to find statistics for the first quarter of this year, but if you look at the number of reported deaths for each Hudson Valley county over the past two months versus their populations, it's clear that the threat of dying from COVID has greatly diminished since the spread of Omicron at the end of 2021. In Dutchess County, the rate has been close to 4 deaths per 100,000 residents over the past 60 days. Orange County has seen a rate of about 4.5 per 100,000 residents in the same amount of time. Ulster County is somewhere between Dutchess and Orange.
Compare those death rates with a year ago and it's clear that the threat of dying from COVID is drastically less than it once was.
Of course, the average flu season lasts six months, not just two. So to compare the current threat properly, we'd need to multiply these numbers by three to see just how they match up to an average flu season. By doing that we get a rate of 12, which is a lower chance of succumbing to COVID than dying from the seasonal flu.
Does this mean the COVID threat is over?
These numbers are just a snapshot of the current threat. It's impossible to know what will happen in the future, but right now the fear of dying from COVID clearly shouldn't be a top concern for most healthy Hudson Valley residents. There's been debate over wearing masks on public transportation, and that could still be something you may want to consider when traveling outside the Hudson Valley where COVID is still running rampant through certain communities.
While most experts admit that there is a low risk of dying from COVID-19, there is still a fear that a new surge could once again overwhelm hospitals with sick patients. Even if they don't ultimately die, the strain on the healthcare system could make it difficult to get timely treatment for other life-threatening issues.
The reality is that once COVID restrictions completely disappear, experts realize it will be almost impossible to get people to comply again if the virus causes another surge in cases. This is why many health experts hesitate to say the pandemic is officially over.
To date, the pandemic has claimed over 6 million lives worldwide. During its height, the virus was way deadlier than the flu or any other disease. Wearing masks, social distancing and taking other precautions was the key to keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. It's clear that the risk is not nearly as great as it once was and your chance of dying from COVID is currently even less than the perishing from the flu. While that could change, healthy Hudson Valley residents can breathe a sigh of relief (with or without a mask if you prefer) for now.
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