Two-thirds of people hospitalized in Rhode Island with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
People on both sides of the argument over our response to COVID-19 are tending to act on emotion, but as often happens, review of the facts brings the topic back to individual decisions about risks and consequences. Of course, the realization that a topic is up for debate counts as an argument against those who wish to use the power of government to force others to do what they want.
According to a spokesman for the RI Department of Health, Rhode Islanders testing positive for COVID-19 while hospitalized break down as shown in the following chart, which also provides each group’s percentage of the population.
The primary takeaway from this presentation is that unvaccinated people are hugely overrepresented in the hospitalization numbers. Around 28% of the population accounts for 66% of people in the hospital with COVID-19.
However, this fact requires a significant caveat. “Hospitalized with COVID-19” means the person is in the hospital and tested positive, whether or not he or she is in the hospital because of COVID-19, or even has any symptoms of the disease. Being unvaccinated may increase the likelihood of testing positive, but it doesn’t increase the likelihood that you’ll break your leg.
That said, the numbers indicate that if everybody in Rhode Island were fully vaccinated, there would be 60 people testing positive for COVID-19 in the hospital rather than 141.
Here’s where the need for judgment comes in. Another way to put this result is that making the approximately 299,537 Rhode Islanders who are still not vaccinated change their minds would keep 81 people out of the hospital at the current rate. How much new power for government and hostility between neighbors in our community is worth that advance? (Remember that almost all of the people in the hospital with COVID-19 will recover just fine or would be there whether or not COVID existed.)
Statistically, your chances are one in 17,545 of being hospitalized with COVID-19 if you’re vaccinated. Unvaccinated, they’re one in 3,219. Obviously, the first gamble is better than the second, but the second isn’t exactly terrifying and has to be measured against the consequences of insisting on making the decision for other people.
Featured image by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash.