If you know much about me, you know that I am a proud alumnus of Washington State University. Having attended high school 15 miles away from the Pullman campus, is it any surprise I’ve been a Coug most of my life?
So it should come as no surprise that I don’t cheer for college teams wearing purple and gold. But I am a fan of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
That organization has kept careful track of the worldwide progression of COVID-19, and created models predicting the trend the disease will take. If you haven’t had a chance, give it a look at covid19.healthdata.org. For the United States, the data can be viewed by state; I’ve been watching the Washington trend line for several months. Lately, I really like what I am seeing. The projections at the time I wrote this column show new deaths trending downward from about seven per day statewide to a little less than one per day by the end of May. New cases are projected to fall to less than 30 per day statewide in that same time period, compared with about 700 new daily cases at the moment.
In a word, Whew!
But the anticipated good news made me wonder: How will the media tell the story? We are very good at telling stories about things happening to people. We aren’t as good at telling about what is not happening.
In fact, I would be surprised if there is a date that we are declared to be “over” COVID-19. But with relatively few people getting sick, the story eventually will disappear from daily news budgets. The question is, when? Bear with me while I pretend to be the head of the Butch T. Cougar Institute of Media Metrics.