Editor: When I read Mr. Pio’s commentary on the “extreme measures” taken by county leaders during the pandemic, I was surprised by the range of statistics given without citation and the conclusion drawn “that these measures were all pain and no gain”. So, I did a simplistic analysis using data published by the Johns Hopkins University Resource Center that is available to the public online.
To begin, I did not analyze the entire database but rather counties around the commonwealth arbitrarily selected for varying population size and location. Imposed restrictions (outside of those mandated at the state level) varied depending on county policies. Statistics can be confusing and often manipulated to support opposing viewpoints, so I chose the most basic analysis: total confirmed covid deaths divided by total population by county and by state. This is a broad indicator that includes not only restrictions but also the behavior of the population in general.
The results show that Loudoun County’s “death rate,” if you choose to term it such, varied from 2 to 6 times less than the other counties analyzed. At the state level, Virginia was one of the more restrictive states. Virginia’s death rate was 1.3 to 1.6 times less than other states analyzed. Again, this is only a portion of the total database and should not be taken as the complete picture. However, one can derive some conclusions. Loudoun County did well in comparison with other counties. It is also clear that variability of the death rate was high across the counties. So, behavior at the local level was key to saving lives.
Mr. Pio is in a leadership position and therefore should take care expressing his viewpoint. In his zeal to criticize Chair Randall, he forgets that by stating that restrictions are “pain with no gain” he encourages a behavior that puts lives in jeopardy. Over the course of the pandemic, we all experienced pain and inconvenience in the form of financial loss, disruption our lives, and death. The data shows that the “gain” in Loudoun County may have been at least a thousand lives saved as a result of the cooperative efforts of all. I recognize that in today’s politically charged world it would be too much to ask for mutual respect. Perhaps we could start by agreeing to not disrespect each other and pursue the goal of mutual respect sometime in the future.
So, this elderly, somewhat health-compromised engineer thanks Chair Randall and the county board for making hard decisions. Hopefully, if our grandchildren or great-grandchildren ever deal with a pandemic, the data from our experience will prove valuable.
Paul Swanson, Lovettsville