I promised you some good news this morning, but before we go there, you, in turn, have to promise me you’re not gonna take what I’m about to say as license to drop your guard and completely misbehave! To wit, Hong Kong, a city of 7.5 million people just a stone’s throw from mainland China, was lauded as a model for coronavirus containment, having suffered just 150 cases.
But then they allowed the people who fled the island in fear to return, and now their coronavirus cases have doubled in the past week. And when you have that mass of humanity crammed into a 427 square mile area, it’s not a very encouraging sign.
Honk Kong officials are working to re-contain the virus
So now that we understand each other, let’s review the latest Illinois coronavirus curve:
Date Total Cases Deaths % Increase Mortality Rate
3/18 288 78 percent
3/19 422 46.5 percent
3/20 585 37 percent
3/21 753 29 percent
3/22 1,049 39 percent
3/23 1,285 12 22.5 percent .9 percent
My fear was the 39 percent Friday to Saturday percentage increase was the start of a new upward trend, but even though we’re not nearly out of the woods yet, the most recent 22.5 percent rise is more in line with our general downward progression.
Starting March 19, if we eliminate the probable 3/22 noise and subtract the current day’s increase from the previous, we get a mathematical sequence that looks like this:
-9.5, -8, -6.5
You see it, right? Simply subtract 1.5 from the previous number to get the newest array member. Though I’d certainly like to see more data before making any final proclamation, the odds of this numeric series being purely random are pretty slim.
I know there’s a way to test for randomness in a set, and I’m sure I knew how to do it at one time, but while I regularly apply mathematics to the candidates I manage, those University of Loyola statistics classes are a somewhat distant memory.
Put more simply, I tend to deal with pattern recognition and not standard deviations these days.
A much clearer indication of our state’s coronavirus containment success is to compare our case totals to other states:
New York 21,689
New Jersey 2,844
Illinois has already dropped to from fourth to sixth place, and Florida is on a trajectory to pass us today or tomorrow.
Meanwhile, astute readers continue to consider the possibility of a large pool of unreported cases eventually skewing the Illinois curve. But the problem with their theory is, it’s virtually impossible to have two equal and somewhat opposite trends.
Please allow me to explain!
The reported cases are generally the more serious ones where those with the ailment visit their doctor or some other medical facility for care. That’s how they’re counted. And we’re overly concerned with those folks because, left unchecked, the difficult cases would quickly overwhelm our ICU beds and ventilators.
If there was a vast pool of asymptomatic and silent Illinois sufferers, they would be infecting others at an alarming rate, which would directly lead to higher daily serious coronavirus percentage case increases, not smaller ones.
The only other statistical possibility would be that successful social distancing is offsetting the potential unreported masses. So, whether we agree on that possibility or not, the numbers indicate that we invariably end up in the same place!
Again, if we let down our guard just like Hong Kong did, that trend will quickly reverse, so keep up the good work Illinois!