By the Numbers
In Numbers 13, God told Moses to select one leader from each of the twelve tribes to send into Canaan. Their mission would be to spy out the land God had promised them and then report back to the people. Upon their return, ten out of the twelve of those ancient Israelite field “reporters” gave their audience a very slanted, subjective, and flat-out “bad report of the land which they had spied out” (vs. 32; see vss. 26-33). However, the other two “reporters,” Joshua and Caleb, sought to be the far more faithful, positive, objective and common-sense voice reason (vs. 30, 14:6-9). But because the people chose to only hone in on and heed the slant of the “bad news” reporters instead, they soon found themselves weeping, complaining, and consumed by fear and frustration (Numbers 14:1-4) – and that was just the beginning (vss. 11-45)! Because it is extremely obvious that such a constant and overwhelming diet of nothing but subjectively-slanted “bad news” reports can make people unnecessarily afraid and fearful, may I offer the following Joshua and Caleb style common-sense perspective?
Yes; the Coronavirus can be a very deadly and devastating disease in some cases. However, here are a few things to keep in mind as you watch the news and their constantly changing numbers on this thing.
#1. As of April 1st, there were a reported 206,207 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., resulting in 4,512 deaths. While any, one, singular death is one far, far too many, do you know what those numbers actually indicate? They mean that nearly 98% of those who have been confirmed to have had it, have not died from it. 98%! Don’t you think that some of our health care professionals who deal with other life and death afflictions such as cancer for example, would just love to see a 98% survival rate in their field?
#2. Just because we keep hearing that the number of confirmed cases is still expected to rise, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are that many more new cases. Remember: Test kits are becoming far more plentiful. Test results are now being processed much more quickly. This means that far more people will now be able to be tested, and so of course the number of confirmed cases is going to go up. But that doesn’t mean that all of those are necessarily new cases, but just simply newly-confirmed cases. There’s a huge difference.
#3. And finally, I have a question that I’m not completely clear on. When they report the total number of confirmed COVID19 cases on the bottom of your screen, doesn’t that number reflect the total amount of confirmed cases SINCE THIS THING FIRST BEGAN? If so, then that would mean it is by no means an accurate indicator of how many people currently have the virus. If the many thousands of people who have recovered from or have unfortunately perished from it have not been subtracted from those numbers, then those numbers need to be understood in that context. Put another way, our county had a confirmed number of three cases for quite a while. Then one day recently it went up to four, and it now sits at five. But that may not necessarily mean that the virus has or is spreading. There may currently be only a couple or so cases in the county, because some of those who were confirmed to have had it in the beginning no longer do. However, if those who no longer have it are still counted in the total amount of confirmed cases to date, then that number can be as misleading as seeking to report to others the world’s total population simply by adding up the annual birth rate, while never subtracting the millions of people who comprise the annual death-rate.
The bottom line is simply this: Do not allow the reporting majority’s particular slant to mislead you into unnecessary fear, frustration, and anxiety, in the same way as it did to God’s people in Numbers 13-14. Instead, determine to take a more faithful and reasonable, objective and common-sense, Joshua and Caleb type approach to the problem. Yes, it is big – there’s no doubt about it. But it is not as big as some of the daily statistics that we are continually being bombarded with might seem to indicate – and it is certainly nowhere near as big as our God!
Therefore my beloved brethren: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. …The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1 Cor 16:13-14, 23-24).