COVID-19 is a disease that should be taken seriously, but the recent spike in cases shouldn’t cause alarm, contends a former department head at Stanford University Medical Center.
Dr. Scott Atlas, now a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, said in a Fox News interview that what matters is not how many coronavirus cases there are, but “who gets the cases.”
“The cases themselves should not be and were never the focus. It’s only the tragic consequences of the cases. When we look at the cases in every state, the overwhelming majority are younger and healthier people,” he said.
The death rate for people under age 70, about .04%, is even lower than for the seasonal flu, he pointed out.
“We realize we have to wait to have the story play out here, but right now, the cases have been going up for three weeks and we have no increase [in deaths],” he told Trace Gallagher on Monday.
“In fact, we have a decrease in death rates. You know, it doesn’t matter if you get the illness if you’re going to fully recover and be fine from it,” said Atlas, the former chief of neuroradiology at the Stanford Medical Center.
“That is what people must understand. For younger healthier people, there’s not a higher risk from this disease at all.”
Further, he insisted the spike in hospitalizations in Texas, Arizona, Florida and California is not related to COVID.
Atlas explained the hospitalization data does not distinguish between patients hospitalized for COVID-19 and those hospitalized for other reasons who test positive after they arrive.
“When I looked at every single hospital area in Texas today, 15 to 20 percent of people in the hospital as inpatients are [COVID-19] positive patients,” he said.
“That means 80 to 85 percent have nothing to do with COVID-19. And the same thing goes with some of the other states. There are people hospitalized, a large number, because they are tested as [COVID-19] positive, somehow they’re categorized as [COVID-19] hospitalizations. That’s a problem,” he said.
In the U.S., the coronavirus has killed more than 130,000 people among 2.9 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there are more than 11.4 million confirmed cases and more than 535,000 deaths.