US COVID Update (20-05-2020)

2개월 전


Mainstream Media driving the narrative (and consequently bad policy)

This is getting really old. I guess the mainstream media will keep pounding the "OMG we're all going to die of the economy is opened up!!" drum way past its expiration date. Everywhere I look people are deciding to make their own decisions about going out and doing everyday things. This, despite the huge number of Karens/Hitlers in both public and private roles.

Anyway. The Wednesday data, which should by now include better data for the past weekend, continues to show we're way past the worst.

NJ has decided that 1400 COVID deaths in nursing homes were not only not confirmed but very likely not even COVID related. Do a crappy job of defining, collecting and/or reporting data and that is what you can expect to get. Crappy output and crappier policy based on it.

In NY the state did not begin even asking nursing homes for COVID related deaths until a month had passed, then demanded undefined data in less than 24 hours. In one case in less than 12 hours. Remind me again what a great job was done by :"the Love Gov" of NY?

Meanwhile, the Governor of FL reacted very quickly to the nursing home situation and currently has very low rates of deaths and cases there, especially when compared to the hideous rates in NY/NJ/PA/MA/MN/CT and so on. What does he get for his efforts? Castigation by the mainstream media. It really should make people wonder.

On the 7 day MA new cases have flattened at around 20K despite testing now being almost triple what it was 2 weeks ago. New deaths lag that but are flattened by about half (1100/day) compared to the peak. And this is in the face of very lousy reporting by some states and the CDC.

Most states report both viral tests (current infections) and anti-body tests (past infections now 'recovered), but some states and the CDC lump the numbers together as "new case" (discovered I suppose). This is just incredibly wrong. The viral numbers indicate whether new individuals are getting infection, so we can know the ongoing 'spread' of the virus (it seems to be slowing quite quickly now) while the anti-body test tell us how many were infected and are now recovered (and may be immune for at least some period) and thus give us an idea about both how contagious the virus really is and how close to herd immunity we might be.

Also, the mainstream media treats states that report both numbers separately (like TX and FL) as if they were reporting the summed (and shouldn't be) numbers that other states do (notably NY/VA/MN/NJ). That is just as wrong, but whether it is from ignorance (fairly likely, given that most 'journalists' seem to have difficulty adding 2 + 2 and coming up with 4 consistently) or mal-intent (which I believe is very likely, given how easy it is to report it correctly).

Any debate on the virus and the economy became essentially political back in late April, when the science and data (even not particularly trustworthy data) clearly showed it was time to open up. It has been extremely costly. I guess we'll have to wait until November to see who gets the most blame, whether deserved or not. We are truly being driven into two camps/tribes whether any of us like it or not. I really, really hate it.

Right now, only NJ, IL, CT, RI, seem to be showing both an increase in cases and in deaths over the past week, but only IL has numbers that are even moderately large.

Many states are reporting many new cases, but all are also reporting a decline in the % of positive tests. 2-3 times as many new tests finds new cases, but the deaths are declining at the same time.

A few notes about R0

Meanwhile, the R0 of all but a few states is below 1, which means the spread is dying out, even in states that opened more than 2 weeks ago, and it is barely above 1 in the others. A quick point about that number. Roughly speaking, the lower the R0 number (it appears to be between 0.6-0.8 across the US) the lower the percentage of "immune" (or recovered or vaccinated) individuals you need for herd immunity. At a rate of 0.6 we would only need about 15% of the population to be immune to have herd immunity. At 0.8 it's about 25%. We tend to associate high % needed with things like the measles and chicken pox, but their R0 tends to be 12 and above. More than 10 times what it looks like COVID is. In other words, COVID doesn't spread as easily or as fast as originally believed. We will almost certainly get a "second wave, probably next fall, but it may well be way less than this first wave because the anti-body tests are pretty routinely finding rates of 20% or more, and we haven't nearly tested all the asymptomatic individuals nor those with symptoms so mild or so few they didn't get tested virally.

This virus is not a nothing burger, and I don't think anyone ever even hinted that it was. But it's still not obvious that the 'policy' reaction of shutting down huge swaths of the economy wasn't more deadly. Again, invoking the Panic Rule ("When in danger, when i doubt, run in circles, scream and shout") is always a bad idea, but it gets ratings for the media. Scared people 'watch' the news, hoping for information. Ah, well.

Here's hoping your life is returning more to 'normal' and that you and yours are safe.

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