The First Ward Cornavirus Report – Now, that’s a lot of tests!

First, while I certainly enjoyed indulging the more (fact-based) opinionated side of myself yesterday – and all the associated hilarious Facebook banter that went along with it – let’s get back to straight reporting for the weekend.

I know I said we’d discuss the shutdown toll, but I forgot what day it was, which, I’m sure, comes as no surprise to anyone.

And second, the fact that Friday was our best testing day, by far, has thrown everything we’ve been doing here completely out of whack. It’s not that we still can’t glean something from the numbers, but we’ll have to shift our focus a bit to do that.

Facts Not Fear 4

So, let’s get right to those stats!

Date   Cases   % Increase N Cases  N Tested  Prevalence    Deaths 

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

4/23   36,934            5.2          1,826           8,969       1 in 4.9       1,688

4/24   39,658            7.3          2,724         16,315       1 in 6          1,795

I’m sure you see the elephant in the refrigerator – a whopping 16,315 test results came in in just one scant 24-hour period! That’s a wholly unexpected 74 percent increase over the previous testing record set just last Wednesday.

Yes! That testing high led to a 2,724 new daily case record which is exactly what we’d expect. But what have we been saying class? That’s right! The new case total only tells us people are still getting sick and nothing more.

To wit, if you take that larger number out of context, you get today’s unconscionable Chicago Tribune headline “Numbers keep climbing,” which while technically true, is only intended to sow further fear.

That headline reminds me of one of my favorite Craig Ferguson bits, “Calling Angelina Jolie a husband stealer is like calling Hitler a vegetarian. It’s true, but it’s hardly the f*****g story, is it?”

So, let’s look at the whole story starting with the prevalence which busted out of its tight range to fall back to 1 in 6. That means it took more testing to find fewer sick folks. To wit, for the last 18 days, 1 out of every 4.5 people tested, tested positive, but yesterday it was 1 in 6!

Now, that could mean, as the Governor said at yesterday’s press conference, they’ve relaxed the screening standards, or it could mean the disease is decelerating – or both! Either way, it’s a great sign!

So, no, Chicago Tribune! The only number that’s “climbing” is the number of tests, and that increased effort only uncovered folks whom we already suspected were sick.

If they have truly eased the testing standard, I’d love to know how many of those new cases were asymptomatic. But as far as I can tell, they’re not tracking that and I’m still striking out with those extensive hospitalization numbers my Springfield source previously provided, which would be the next best thing.

The third best thing is that the Illinois Department of Public Health does report the number of COVID-19 occupied ICU beds and ventilators being employed. So, in light of that massive testing leap, we’re gonna start tracking that with the expectation that more coronavirus cases aren’t necessarily leading to more occupied ICU beds.

Date    ICU Beds     Ventilators

4/24       1,225                709

As you might imagine, the daily new case percentage increase hit a twelve-day high, but again, it’s been rendered semi-meaningless by our vast testing bump. However, if you combine that 7.1 percent with the 1 in 6 prevalence, it’s solid evidence that the disease is not accelerating despite our increasing case total.

But what’s the one indicator we can always count on class? That’s right! The Illinois COVID-19 mortality rate. They can fudge a lot of things, but as I like to say, “They can’t hide the bodies!”

Now, some of my duly deputized statisticians have cogently noted that many coronavirus deaths are questionable. The Illinois “standard” seems to be that if you’ve tested positive for the disease and die, regardless of any other medical condition, it’s counted as a pandemic death.

While that will, without a doubt, artificially increase our mortality rate, as long as they stick to that “standard,” it will continue to be our best state-of-the-disease indicator.

And the fact that it remained at 4.5 percent yesterday is a great sign that our numbers are reasonably accurate and the disease is beginning to recede. Again, if there was an  seriously sick undiagnosed horde out there, just like in Michigan, our mortality rate would be inexplicably climbing.

Instead, it’s been reasonably flat for nine straight days.

So much for that “short” column I originally intended to write!

To summarize today’s coronavirus report theme, when viewed in a vacuum, the new daily case total is utterly meaningless. It’s tells us nothing about where we are on the “curve” and it makes is seem like the pandemic is accelerating when it’s not. Our numbers, when viewed as a whole, clearly indicate the disease is decelerating.

Please stay safe!

4 thoughts on “The First Ward Cornavirus Report – Now, that’s a lot of tests!

  1. I-ROD … day #3 — addend to my thursday comment
    The I-ROD (the Infection Rate of the Day) is going down … and this is amongst the susceptible (healthcare/institutionalized/city), the seniors, the sickly, and the scared, (Oh my!). The Gov. Cuomo data (quoted by Jeff) also strengthens the stance to gradually (with due caution) re-enter the work-force … our slogan might be … we will get back to our tasks – we will be cautious and still wear N-95 masks. The mortality rate is despicable, deceptive, and “delay-based” …yes, diseases cause death (I believe that was taught my first day of medical school).
    Again, this merely reflects the results of the susceptible, the sickly, the seniors, and the scared. I suspect (and estimate) that this comprises much less than 1/5 of Americans … therefore, we are (most likely) in a 5-8 times better situation than the nay-sayers & dooms-dayers are predicting with their “worst … of THE worst” … case scenario.
    I am anxious to see what a random 500 illinoisans at 6 west suburban Meijer stores would reveal.
    The I-ROD is going down

    4/17 .2432
    4/18 .2189
    4/19 .2024
    4/20 .2284
    4/21 .2447
    4/22 .2191 *** day #1
    4/23 .2036
    4/24 .1670

    Thank you Jeff Ward … you bring “Venerable Vitriol”

  2. The death curve … the mortality rate will “accelerate” until May 8th … it can be likened to the (out of synch or delayed) …”shadow” of the I-ROD ,,, The Infected Rate Of the Day
    *** before May 16th — J B Pritzker will be pressured to drastically reduce his STRANGLEHOLD on the citizens of Illinois

  3. Jeff you nailed it on this.

    Rod Nelson

    please see: https://nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=146047362
    The full version of this was censored by “Nextdoor” so the above link may not work. Here is part of it:

    The Governor presented two physicists last Thursday to explain the models that the Governor used in part to issue his orders. One of them displayed a graphic of two bell-shaped curves that “would have happened” and “will happen” but for mass incarceration of the presumed innocent and release of the proved guilty by the Governor. This is not “science.” It is smoke and mirrors.

    When asked during Q&A if he would release the entire data set and methodology behind the double hump chart his response was to “ask them” because it is proprietary information. So much for transparency. Can I get the data with a FOIA request? Or is FOIA also suspended by imperial decree?

    Science demands peer review and independent tests by others to confirm validity. The math of epidemics is not rocket science but pandemic analysis is harder than rocket science, as pointed out by one of the experts, Dr. Nigel Goldenfeld http://guava.physics.uiuc.edu/~nigel/.

    In mathematics, differential calculus is a subfield of calculus concerned with the study of the rates at which quantities change. The basic math of epidemics begins with Rnaught – how many people each infected person infects. This leads to a sort of geometric series which can be defined by a function that looks graphically like an “S”. This is known as the “logistic function” and it looks a lot like the “normal” Gaussian distribution but has heavier tails. When applied to deaths, the death rate at any point on the curve can be obtained by differential calculus with the first derivative (the slope of the curve). The number of deaths can be determined by integration (the area under the curve). So Dr. Ezike (who really does appear to be the smartest person in the room regardless of who is with her) often refers to geometric series as an illustration, for example, an=a1⋅rn−1 (a1=10 , r=3 , a8= 21,870). This is with a Rnaught of 3 and starting with just 10 infected people and 8 steps. The next (9th) “step” in the progression yields 65610 cases.

    Here I quote from a paper dated 16 March 2020 written by Gov. Pritzker’s guests at his 23 April press conference, Drs. Goldenfeld and Maslov. arXiv:2003.09564 [q-bio.PE]

    “However, we were not satisfied with this argument, because it predicted the first covid-19 confirmed case would be too late. To do this, we experimented with moving the starting time of the simulation with one infected individual and found that this would work if the date of infection was February 16th 2020. Reassuringly, this date is roughly consistent with the working backwards calculation! We ran the simulations with this initial condition: one infection event on Feb 16th 2020. Starting with this value, our simulations predicted that on March 18 2020, between 38 and 40 people would be hospitalized, with 5 patients in ICU. At that time, the data available indicated at leas 18 ICU patients (of which 11 were a cluster at a single hospital) and at least 19 non- critical hospitalized patients. We regarded this agreement as satisfactory within the uncertainties inherent in computer simulation at the population level with such small numbers of cases.” The authors were “reassured” that their model was “satisfactory” based on a first case of 16 Feb 2020. However, Chicago’s “first case” was actually three weeks earlier on 26 January 2020 and was followed by the first example (as was thought then) of U.S. person to person spread when the “first case” was followed by her husband becoming ill with the virus 4 days later. “This is the first person-to-person spread of coronavirus in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is also the second confirmed case of coronavirus in Illinois.” [“Chicago woman infects husband with coronavirus, US issues travel warning”]

    Thus the very first assumption of their model was wrong by three weeks – a virtual eternity when considering the small time window for containment of an epidemic caused by a highly contagious microbe with a short incubation period. In fact, the authors’ main point is that time is of the essence.

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