The problem with Sweden
I started doing these daily updates because the news cycle has kicked into overdrive, and we needed a place to put each day’s developments, dig into the numbers a bit and do some truth-squadding when appropriate.
But the rumor mill works overtime during a pandemic, and it’s nearly impossible to keep up in real time. So today I’ll just tease one thread out of the whisper mill and dig in to it a bit.
It’s no secret that many Americans have become disenchanted with the lockdown; some believe the whole thing is unnecessary, and have been wondering aloud why the United States didn’t handle the coronavirus pandemic more like Sweden, where no restrictions were put in place and people have just been living their lives, letting the disease run its course on a path to herd immunity.
Let’s talk about Sweden. Its population is comparable to the state of North Carolina — 10.23 million to our 10.49 million. And it’s not inconsequential that Sweden has universal healthcare, the eighth-best system in the world when it comes to cost and outcomes. This means that no one in Sweden will go bankrupt if they contract COVID-19, unlike the US, where that will start happening with regularity.
This is good because Sweden today has 18,177 diagnoses of COVID-19, with 2,192 deaths so far. This is more than twice as many cases in NC today — 8,733 on the same site — and more than seven times the deaths. We’ve got 309 today on this site. And Sweden’s cases are accelerating, according to the NY Times tracker.
But, of course, in North Carolina, ours are too. Just not as quickly, which I suppose is the point of the whole Sweden comparison.
- For weeks, coronavirus had not infiltrated the last seven of NC’s 100 counties. Today we add two more to the list: Hyde and Madison counties got their first cases, bringing it to 95 counties thus far.
- The same link shows the N&O’s tracker, which identifies 571 new cases reported in NC today — the highest one-day total yet.
- Forsyth County claims six of those, bringing its total to 152.
- Guilford County added 29 more cases, for 304 total diagnoses. They also count 19 coronavirus-related deaths.
- We’re about the cross the 3 million mark worldwide in terms of diagnoses, and we should cross the 1 million mark in the US tomorrow.
Remember “The Joe Schmo Show“? It was back at the dawn of reality TV, 2003, and some comedy writers thought it might be funny to make a fake reality show, except one of the cast members thought it was real. They found a total schmo — Matt Gould — and started to work what was basically a con: A rags-to-riches reality show with staged competitions, fake drama and other devices. It’s fascinating to watch because a few episodes in, the cast starts to feel bad about this horrible thing they’re doing. It’s one of Kristin Wiig’s first TV roles, too. Here’s the very first episode of Season 1, but I suggest going down the rabbit hole for a bit. It’s very compelling.
- Tonight’s featured image is “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, from 1614-ish. Thanks to the National Gallery of Art‘s public-domain collection.
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