Every day, the Press Herald dutifully reports the number of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths, among other data provided by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But what the Maine CDC can’t count, and the Press Herald can’t report, is the number of lives Mainers have saved or infections we’ve prevented by following the governor’s directives to stay at home, practice social distancing, wear masks in public and other measures. When we look at what happens when a state is caught unprepared for this virus, however, we can get a sense of what Mainers have done to keep their hospitals from being overrun and their fellow citizens healthy and alive.

If Maine had the case and death rates of New York state, the worst per capita rates in the United States to date, Maine would have had 26,319 cases of COVID-19 instead of 2,667, and 2,113 deaths from the disease instead of 101. Compared to this worse-case scenario, we can reasonably estimate that Mainers’ community spirit of protecting others has saved 23,652 people from an illness with no known cure, and saved 2,012 of those people from premature deaths.

Yet we can’t see what we’ve avoided, so people cry out: “What’s the big deal? This is all much ado about nothing!” When they do, however, that’s when we know our efforts to contain this disease are succeeding.

David Kuchta


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