The First Ward Cornavirus Report – Not nearly as bad as it looks!

Anytime we have a record coronavirus case day, it’s gonna be a cause for concern, particularly when we’re more than ready to see those numbers recede. But as we’ve regularly stipulated, the number of new cases only tells us we have more cases and nothing else.

So, let’s look at yesterday’s 2,049 positive results in context.

The first and foremost consideration is we obliterated the 7,956 single-day testing record set back on April 12. And we did it in style with 9,350 results coming back on Wednesday. That’s an 18 percent improvement over that previous high, and a whopping 41 percent better than our ten-day testing average.

Facts Not Fear 2

Please also note that yesterday’s prevalence still sits squarely in the middle of its range, which means one positive result for every 4.5 tests regardless of the number of tests provided. The fact that this range hasn’t budged in 17 long days would seem to indicate we’ve finally fallen into some sort of testing standard.

That means there can’t be the vast untested infected horde so many of you worried about at the outset of this pandemic. Remember, as long as you have a big enough sample size, countermanding trends within the same population cannot exist.

I would also suspect the prevalence will back off to somewhere around 1 in 8 as our capacity improves to the point where we can test the more mild or asymptomatic folks.

The next reasonable sign, of course, is our 6.1 new daily case percentage increase. That number has been in its own tight range recently signaling that more sick people aren’t necessarily leading to more sick people. The disease continues to decelerate, instead.

But the best indicator of statistical reasonability is, despite yesterday’s record case number, our mortality rate remained at a flat 4.4 percent. Given its lagging nature – people don’t immediately die of the disease – that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but if there was a large untested and seriously sick group, the death toll, by definition, would have to inexplicably rise.

Again, the testing stat may be subject to variations in standards between different medical facilities, but you can’t hide dead bodies. I’d really like to get my hands on the hospitalization numbers again, but that’s proving to be quite the challenge!

With all those caveats issued, here’s our two-week table:

Date   Cases   % Increase   N Cases    N Tested  Prevalence    Deaths 

4/9     16,422            9             1,344           5,791       1 in 4.3          528

4/10   17,887            8.7          1,445           6,670       1 in 4.6          596

4/11   19,180            7.2          1,293           5,252       1 in 4.1          677

4/12   20,852            8.7          1,672           7,956       1 in 4.75        720

4/13   22,025            5.6          1,173           5,033       1 in 4.3          794

4/14   23,247            5.5          1,222           4,848       1 in 4             868

4/15   24,593            5.7          1,346           6,313       1 in 4.7          948

4/16   25,733            4.8          1,180           5,660       1 in 4.8       1,072

4/17   27,575            7.1          1,842           7,574       1 in 4.1       1,134

4/18   29,160            5.7          1,585           7,241       1 in 4.5       1,259

4/19   30,357            4.1          1,197           5,914       1 in 5          1,290

4/20   31,508           3.8          1,151           5,040       1 in 4.4       1,349

4/21   33,059            4.7          1,551           6,639       1 in 4.3       1,468

4/22   35,108            6.1          2,049           9,350       1 in 4.6       1,565

164,347 Illinoisans have been tested and we’ve already discussed the prevalence and mortality rates.

Meanwhile, I want to thank the reader who noticed we moved up to sixth place in the state rankings on Tuesday, and we remained there yesterday. The good news there is, Illinois has the third lowest mortality rate in that top ten list. Only Florida’s and California’s are lower, despite Chicago accounting for almost half our cases.

That’s another reasonable sign that the disease isn’t accelerating here.

Sadly, our five-day new case moving average has been rendered meaningless by yesterday’s testing bump. If I had the time, it would be fascinating to develop some sort of new cases/testing moving average combination, but I don’t think it would tell us anything we don’t already know.

Perhaps one of you might like to take a crack at it!

Lastly, I want to thank all the readers who demonstrated their concern for this scurrilous columnist being raked over the Facebook coals by folks who fervently feel I’m evil incarnate. And I want to thank you even more for having the wisdom not to send me any screen shots of that collective third-grade meltdown.

First, after almost 14 years at the keyboard, I’ve gotten used to it. Second, those kinds of baseless diatribes only drive my “hits” through the roof to the tune of over 15,000 yesterday. Third, the irony of those frothing-at-the-mouth folks making me the most important person in their lives is never lost on me. In fact, it’s downright amusing.

And lastly, as one of my favorite former newspaper managing editors liked to say, if a columnist isn’t aggravating the bleep out of somebody, they’re not doing their job. But who knew the application of seventh grade math could become so controversial? I’m sure it can’t be me!

Until tomorrow!

8 thoughts on “The First Ward Cornavirus Report – Not nearly as bad as it looks!

  1. The metrics you are alluding to are similar to On Base Percentage, Walks + Hits per inning Pitched, and Average Runs Scored per game in (different Ballparks … think San Diego (low) and Coors Field (high)

  2. Mass transit will be revolutionized – think … individual, cubicles 80plus plexiglass seating units per bus, el, and train car.
    Many commuters will have astronaut occlusive helmets with or w/o bodysuits.
    I equate our state (and country) to be analogous to Wrigley field. Chicago (Big city) is the area behind home plate @ high rate of infection –Aurora and Elgin (distant suburbs) are down the R & L field lines at low rate of infection
    The other parts of the ball park … the upper deck, R bleachers, & L bleachers (rural to very rural) are @ very low rate of infection. And that’s how back to work will be phased back rather in (somewhat) timely – EXCEPT in the dense, inner urban areas.
    Many urbanites will relocate

  3. the new (daily reported tests) POS divided by TOTAL is our #1 indicator going forward every day … today the RATE OF RISE (or % ncrease) — dropped markedly by 6.2% … the prior was 0.2336 POS per day … latest is/was 0.2191
    NOTE the inner-urban bigger cities with MAJOR Mass Transit are behind a big 8 ball (as is the airline industry) …ones such as Tulsa, Nashville, and San Antonio are not so encumbered.
    The IL daily death toll will vascillate widely — I believe it is more of an indicator of Chicago & institutional status of improvement +/o decline … since those are the main IL hot spots

  4. COVID-19 is like a foul ball at wrigley Field with ZERO protective netting (not even behind home plate) … this is the problem most of the CIty of Chicago

  5. Please explain how this stat could be; today Pritzker said if he were to eliminate stay at home orders starting in May we would have tens of thousands of deaths. Could this be statically true. Of course he did not say over how long so I suppose if over 20 or 30 years it could be statistically correct. Is that possible?

    • It is a statistical impossibility! First, nobody’s advocating for us to go back to the former normal. And second, they’re completely ignoring the fact that we know exactly who to protect. Pritzker’s casualty possibility could only occur if we through our elderly to the wolves!

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