Editorial: COVID patients must stand up and be counted

  • Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills hosted a COVID-19 testing site in January. Testing in the suburbs and state is increasing this summer.

    Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills hosted a COVID-19 testing site in January. Testing in the suburbs and state is increasing this summer. Associated Press

 

Daily Herald Editorial Board

Posted8/25/2021 1:00 AM

Reporting COVID-19 data is vital.

It is vital to know how many cases exist in any community, and where they are. It is vital to know how the most vulnerable populations are affected, and for determining which treatments are most effective. It is vital to stopping community spread.

 

So we're disturbed to hear there seems to be a trend among some who believe they have contracted COVID-19, but who aren't telling anybody about it.

Health officials and scientists cannot know the extent of the current COVID-19 spread unless people who get it are transparent about it. It turns out there are plenty of people who are getting the telltale symptoms -- losing their sense of taste and smell seems to be among the most popular -- but are not self-reporting.

Why not? The reasons seem to vary, but the most prevalent seem to be they don't want to add to the numbers -- this from people clinging still to the idea that the pandemic is a hoax -- and those who say it's nobody business if they or their family members have the coronavirus because they do not want to be stigmatized.

Those attitudes trivialize what we are all up against -- and make no mistake, we are all in nothing less than a fight for our lives.

People who do not get tested to make sure they do or do not have the virus are risking everything, if everything can be described as personal health and well-being, and that of their families, neighbors, friends, their entire community.

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"The pandemic has exposed, more than anything else, the importance of data," says Ashok Krishnamurthy, deputy director of the Renaissance Computing Institute at the University of North Carolina. "Data are what will help you get a fuller picture of what works and what doesn't."

When the pandemic is finally over, people should be invited to self-report what they didn't share during the pandemic. Our county health departments can encourage that and make it reasonably easy to do.

But moreover, people need to be reporting now. Every bit of data matters. Nobody's politics should get in the way of helping our society paint the most accurate story possible of what this pandemic has done to us.

Reporting now helps control the spread. It saves lives. It may give real -time answers to the most effective of the vaccines.

In the long run, researchers also will need to know how the virus bobbed and wove from home to home, and ultimately how it can be defeated.

Surely, it is not too much to ask that people with important data share it.

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