Americans want to know how do we compare the risks of this new coronavirus to the risks of the normal annual flu. How likely we are to get the new virus? If we get the virus, how likely are we to die?

It feels like our country is fumbling around in the dark with a cane trying to make sure we don’t fall down and break a hip. Why is it so hard for the medical experts to create the light we need to see the way forward?

Healthcare, as it turns out, entails a lot of fumbling around in the dark. There are lots and lots of guesstimates. Think of it this way:

It’s late in the day. As you approach home in your residential neighborhood, you see a police car pull out to follow you as you pass. Siren blaring, lights flashing, you pull over.

Public safety’s finest walks up, and you roll down your window. “Do you know why I stopped you?”

“No officer, I don’t.”

“Do you know how fast you were going?”

“No officer, I don’t. My speedometer is broken. Based on how long it took me to pass the guy on the bicycle, I would guess 20 miles an hour.”

“Well, my radar gun is broken, but I eyeballed you and I guess you were doing 80 miles an hour in a residential neighborhood.”

Which guess is right? Twenty mph or 80 mph. It changes what comes next. Go on with a normal life or spend time in lockup.

That’s basically the discussion we are having about the coronavirus and what to do next.

Is this the regular flu, and we are going 20 mph on a residential street, or is this is a highly dangerous pandemic and we are going 80 mph on a residential street? Unfortunately, our government and medical experts are just guessing how fast we are going.

We don’t even know how many people die each year from the regular flu.

For the 2018-2019 season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Center for Disease Control estimates 35 million people had the regular flu and about 34,000 died from the regular flu.

The CDC guess of 35 million for the normal flu is what is called a SWAG – a Scientific Wild Guess. The CDC doesn’t actually know how many people get the flu. The flu is not a reportable illness for a national database. Many of us have the flu and never even go to a doctor. The CDC’s claim of 35 million people getting the flu is just a guesstimate.

Incredibly, the CDC doesn’t even know if 34,000 people died from the flu during the 2108-2019 flu season.

Here’s how the CDC created their scientific wild guess of annual flu deaths. The CDC takes a sample of hospitals reporting deaths where influenza is listed as the primary cause of death. The CDC then intentionally inflates the reported number of flu deaths received from hospitals.

The CDC’S excuse for using a guesstimate instead of the actual data provided by the hospital is the number of people who die from the flu in a hospital could be masked by onsite medical professionals incorrectly reporting the cause of death as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, or pulmonary heart disease.

The CDC assumes without the flu perhaps many hospital patients would have survived. SoSo, the CDC makes up a number to increase the hospital reported deaths from the flu.

The CDC then takes its intentionally inflated hospital deaths from influenza and multiplies it by how many Americans the CDC guesses had the flu but did not seek hospitalization.

Sadly, this means we are comparing the CDC’s annual guesstimates on the annual flu virus to the CDC’s current guesswork on the coronavirus in order to decide how scared we should be. How likely are we to get the new flu? How likely are we to die?

We are in the dark, falling over furniture, tumbling to the ground.

We are using current guesswork for the risk of the coronavirus to the scientific guesstimates for annual flu in order to decide whether to stay locked up at home or live a normal life. Are we going 20 mph or 80 mph? Our government doesn’t know.

Share your thoughts.

David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Highlands News-Sun and the Highlands Sun, as well as newspapers in Lake, Polk and Sumter counties. He can be reached at David@D-R.Media .^p