by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
For weeks now, the John Locke Foundation’s Jon Sanders has been publishing what he calls the “NC Threat-Free Index.” It is a collection of COVID-19 data that puts the numbers into context – not just reporting how many people have contracted the coronavirus, but how many people have recovered, how many are potentially infectious, and how many North Carolinians have never had the virus. Sander’s explains:
Round-the-clock virus coverage in media, authoritarian government restrictions against people and businesses, and questionable state health data have all contributed to a climate of fear and suspicion far out of scope with what the virus warrants and without any regard to severe and mounting unintended consequences in other aspects of people’s lives…
People are left with the impression that we’re surrounded by a contagion that’s far more widespread and deadly than it really is. Among other things, it makes them extremely vexed when someone says something like “far more widespread and deadly than it really is,” as if seeking to quantify how infectious and deadly this virus constitutes a kind of COVID blasphemy.
The traditional coverage surrounding COVID-19 not only causes potential misconceptions about the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities but also produces animosity between people and their neighbors. Sanders writes:
Strangely, over time, instead of people realizing things cannot be as dire as they appeared back in March, they seem more afraid. There’s a twist to it now. People seem to view contracting an infection as a consequence of someone’s COVID sin. You didn’t social-distance enough. You shouldn’t have gone to that restaurant. They’re not wearing masks. “We too often let our guard down,” assumed Cooper. They shouldn’t be holding that rally. They shouldn’t be praising Jesus.
It comes down to this presumed commandment: We shouldn’t be doing anything we enjoy that brings people together to laugh, talk, cheer, and smile. Sit home, fear the virus, and obsess about politics — the one activity that is safe.
Sanders wanted to combat that by putting the data into context. Just how likely are your neighbors or the folks at the grocery store to spread the virus? Sanders shares the numbers:
- As of Nov. 1, there are 246,318 North Carolinians presumed to be recovered from COVID-19
- Less than one-tenth (9.8%) of NC’s total case count constantly trumpeted by the Cooper administration and media are active cases (note: a case of COVID isn’t a permanent infection, and only someone with an active case of the virus can conceivably transmit it to you)
- Active cases represent just 0.26% (over two-tenths of one percent) of NC’s population (note: active cases are lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 minus recoveries and deaths)
- Nearly nine out of every ten (88.6%) of NC’s total cases are recovered, meaning they are no longer infectious
- Only 0.04% of people in NC have died with COVID-19 (regardless of the actual cause of death)
- 97.3% of people in NC have never had a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 (note: this proportion will always decline, but we have been living with this virus since February, as far as testing is concerned)
- All considered, 99.7% of people in NC pose no threat of passing along COVID-19 to anyone — a virus most have never had and the rest have recovered from (note: this proportion will fluctuate based on the relative growth in lab-confirmed cases vs. recoveries) (side note: this proportion is likely understated because NC’s population has continued to grow since July)