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.
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!