April 21, 2020

#TrueTalkTuesdays 82

With a reopening of the USA slated for May 1st, many are wondering how martial arts would be reintroduced to the public in concerns with health and safety.

If I had a say, it would be the same as always.

All this fear mongering we have had about this coronavirus being the end of the world, with hundreds of thousands dead in the US alone – instead that never happened.

The fact is, more people die from other causes than what we are saying with COVID-19. These are stats from 2017 FYI:

  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173

Point being – all of this freak out was overblown. Yes it is a serious problem, many people died, and it addressed problems in how testing was done, staffing, equipment shortages, and infrastructure issues. But, was destroying the economy and retreating into our homes the proper solution?

I don’t think so. We aren’t stopping people from driving cars, or preventing people from having sugar or cheeseburgers, despite how much more people are affected by them than this virus. Even the seasonal flu has more deaths attributed to it.

Perhaps a week or two was warranted to play catch up and get the infrastructure that was missing online. But as of now, there is no reason to remain closed in my opinion. From what I have read, there has not been one person with coronavirus in the US denied healthcare or access to a respiratory, so we do not have issues with scaling at these point.

We have been told this will likely become another seasonal virus. So there is no hiding from it. And a vaccine doesn’t cure you either – or else we wouldn’t have to develop new flu vaccines every year.

What I had said a month ago still holds true today – the endangered population should remain sequestered until the coast is clear. But the young, healthy, and fit should be back to work and living life. With the way this is going to continue, herd immunity would seem to be the best way of safeguarding the endangered population long-term, and that is only going to happen with young healthy people living outside.

Will some people die from this, of course. But as a I said earlier, the risk of death doesn’t stop us from driving cars (more deadly than this). The costs of a long-term shutdown would be worse than what this disease could ever do.

Of course, I think practicing proper hygiene has always been important, and perhaps the silver lining here is that people may finally take it seriously. I know people that will train with ringworm, with a flu, or some other contagious illness like it’s not a big deal. It is. As I say, those people that train with a contagious illness are like the people in zombie movies that try to hide the fact they were infected – they are going to screw everyone selfishly.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?

Comment with your take on this. And if you like this article, please do me a solid and share it with your friends. Thanks!

  • Greg Regoord says:

    Hey Dave. I think you completely missed the boat on this. You are comparing apples to oranges when you lump covid into all the ways people die throughput a year. Those happen over the course of a year and don’t overwhelm our healthy system. Covid is extremely contagious and as shown in other countries would tax our healthcare resources to a point where people who shouldn’t die would. This is far more contagious then the flu and also has a higher mortality rate. I agree that we can’t shut down forever but going back to status quo is a mistake in my mind. Just my two cents.

    • In other countries it overloaded their healthcare systems, not in ours. Even in New York, which had the worst of it, not a single person was denied healthcare or access to a respirator. Their hospitals are not full and have empty beds.

      We have not come close to the predictions of 100,000s dying in the US.

      Now we have tons of respirators (which by the way isn’t a good way of handling this disease and can cause more damage) and plenty of hospital capacity. You are right that it is very contagious, over 2 times more than they originally thought. That means their models were way off, in a good way. Because that means a lot more people were already infected (millions) and the mortality is actually much lower.

      That and the fact that hospitals are reporting much higher mortality rates for covid because it financially benefits them (more funding). They have 2 codes for covid-19, one for when people test positive and die, the other when they present symptoms and die, but didn’t test positive. Many people are falling under the latter and getting reported as a covid-19 death.

      At this point, the damage of a closed country is going to be far worse than this disease can do. That’s my humble opinion based on the statistics I have seen and news reported.

  • Hi David,

    Usually enjoy your posts, but I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one.

    Completely understand your perspective on how damaging the lock-down is to livelihoods. Losing jobs and not being able to pay rent or not knowing if food can be put on the table is a horrible position and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

    However, the argument of economy versus people’s lives is a very dangerous road.
    I don’t believe anyone wants to lose a loved one to a ‘preventable’ death.

    Comparing the death rate if diseases isn’t very insightful without context.
    Most of the ones on listed in the post are not contagious, except for influenza + pneumonia.

    COVID-19 is not like the influenza (flu) in several important aspects: 1) The death rate for COVID-19 is actually a lot higher than the flu. Death rate of covid-19 is at 42000 after 2-3 months in US, compared to 55000 for flu for the whole year of 2017 (from the posted list). The only reason the death rate has somewhat slowed is entirely due to the lockdown measures. We literally have nothing else to prevent new infections. And 1 life lost is already too much.

    2) Evidence suggest infectious people are asymptomatic. So someone may feel fine, but still infect other people. Chances are people with the virus could still decide to come for a roll and unknowingly infect colleagues, who then go home to be in contact with their loved ones.

    3) There is currently no vaccine for the COVID-19, where as there are vaccines for the flu.

    4) Though deaths are higher in elderly people, it has killed people of all ages in discriminantly. Part of the danger is due to the fact we still don’t know everything about how the virus kills.

    Hope this points out some critical differences of COVID-19 vs Flu.

    Due to the possibility of exponential infection rates, health are systems can easily be overwhelmed. I have heard cases of people going from difficulty breathing to needing critical care within the space of an hour.

    Also why does it have to be a choice between life and livelihoods? Can the government not better support it’s citizens during these unprecedented times? We are seeing this in other country’s such as th UK, Australia and Germany where they are supporting wages. If the countries prevent citizens from working then they should support livelihoods.

    Yes, there are risks in everything and many people do die, but we shouldn’t allow ‘prevetable’ deaths. Especially in a developed country. Some countries wish they can be in lock down, but due to much poorer living standards, its not even possible for them to administer social distance or even testing.

    I think people’s anxiety with lock-down can be particular due to the indefinite time of it. Howerver, people around the world are working incredibly hard to conduct patient tests and develop vaccines to fight this terrible virus.
    We’ll get through this by helping each other.

    Hope you and the family are safe and well.
    Stay strong.


    • I disagree with the idea that it is economics versus lives. They are both intertwined. People living in poverty have worse health outcomes in the US, and higher crime. Destroying the economy will end up with many people dying because of it. The one person is too many worked both ways.

      Regarding the mortality of covid-19, that is a number that is over inflated. First off, it is far more contagious, over 2 times the original estimate. That means far more people were infected already, probably millions. Second, hospitals are reporting covid-19 deaths more than are likely because they are given more funding. They have two codes, one for people who test positive and one for people who display symptoms but don’t test positive. So a lot of people are dying in that second vague code are being counted as covid-19.

      Both those things combined would make the mortality rate drop a lot and bring it closer to the common flu.

      There is no dispute this is a serious illness. Bit we have many serious illnesses and react appropriately. For this, it caught people with their pants down and they panicked. Understandable, but the more we learn the less scary it becomes. At this point, we have plenty of hospital beds and respirators, curve is flattened, and I see no reason to stay closed. That is my opinion

  • This topic could have been left alone. I wish you had not commented about it. I hope you do not start giving your views on religion or politics. I would rather just respect you for your considerable contribution to martial arts. I have had zero income as a martial arts instructor for a month now, but am glad we are playing it safe. I have older relatives and some who have been fighting cancer, and do not want to be the reason they die early. I also have/had family who survived Nazis, the Great Depression, WW2, and Vietnam. I don’t think missing work for a couple of months is going to ruin my life.

    • Kind of hard to avoid the elephant in the room. 🙂

      Hey Troy, I respect that you have family that would be more at risk, which is why I said the endangered population should remain in quarantine. Both of my parents are in that category as well (60+ and immune compromised), so that is why they have remained in isolation during this time. Nowhere did I recommend visiting these people and risk infecting them.

      I’m happy to hear that you are financially stable enough to take months of reduced income with no problems, but most people in America are living paycheck to paycheck, and the $1,200 they are sending them is not going to hold them over for long.

      They are already talking about preparing for the second wave in the fall. Do you think it’s wise to stay locked in for the rest of the year? The fact is it is a dangerous world, and risk is involved in every decision. But as more information is discovered, we find ways of mitigating or reducing the risks involved with living. This is no different. The curve is flattening out, and the next phase of us prevailing is for the young and healthy to start living and get back to work. Herd immunity is going to be developed by those people, which will protect the endangered population.

      • I think you could avoid the elephant in the room by writing about something else. This topic is politically charged and less about martial arts. I guess I preferred to hold David Avellan in high regard for your competitive achievements and technical knowledge, but wading into this and whether Marcelo Garcia is the best pfp grappler… could have taken a pass on both. Please write about double guard pulls in competition, or whether UFC could hold fights without an audience, etc.and let the youtube and aol a-holes hate on the current events.
        My spouse is still employed and we have been forgoing any expenses we can avoid, and I did pick up some groceries at the food pantry, so I would not say we are doing great. But I do not pay for cable tv, we drive old cars that we paid cash for, and I tried to always save some for a rainy day and it did arrive this year. I have to agree with Greg and Quen (above) about not rushing back into business as usual. Believe me, I would rather be teaching jiu-jitsu and coaching mma, but I want there to be plentiful, readily available testing so we all know who has the virus and who already has antibodies. I want to know if I have it and if the people at our gym do, too. Thanks for all you do for martial arts. -T

        • When there isn’t much going on in the martial arts world, I tend to look at what people are talking about and comment on that. Those articles you referenced were actually topics on BJJ news sites. That’s why I discussed them. They may not be what you want to hear, and that’s fine. I can’t bat 100% for everyone and don’t aim to.

          While you might see this off-topic, I don’t. As a martial artist, this is directly affecting our businesses and the ways we may practice in the future. It also relates to health, risk and fear, three major things we must deal with in life and the martial arts.

          I could continue to discuss this, but as you rather not, I will end our discussion here. Best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

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