The First Ward Cornavirus Report – April 29, 2020

Since I’m running out of creative column titles, let’s just apply the day’s date going forward! But if I was to label what will inevitably turn out to be another stellar journalistic achievement, it would be, ‘We’re getting better!’

Facts Not Fear 2

On to the table!

Date   Cases   % Increase N Cases  N Tested  Prevalence  Deaths 

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

4/25   41,777            5.3          2,119         11,985       1 in 5.6       1,874

4/26   43,903            5.0          2,126         12,975       1 in 6.1       1,933

4/27   45,833            4.4          1,930         13,096       1 in 6.75     1,983

4/28   48,102            4.9          2,269         14,561       1 in 6.4       2,125

After our second-best results day, 242,189 Illinoisans have now been swabbed, and despite that increased testing, it looks like we’ll be in fourth place nationally for the foreseeable future.

So, what’s the best news class? That’s right! The prevalence! You’ve clearly been paying attention!

It continues to back off faster than President Trump from the prospect of a Clorox IV. (I’m sorry! I just couldn’t’ resist!). After 18 straight days of sitting squarely between 1 in 4 to  in 5, yesterday’s 1 in 6.4 prevalence looks pretty damn good.

Our second-best testing day did lead to our second-best new case total, but it took 14,561 test results to get there. Again, with the more relaxed screening criteria, I’d really like to know the severity of these recent cases, but that data isn’t available because it doesn’t fit the Governor’s all-hope-is-lost narrative. So we have to rely on the number of COVID-19 occupied hospital bed and ventilators, instead:

Date   ICU Beds     %+     Ventilators      %+

4/23       1,225                         709

4/24       1,244        1.5            763               7.6

4/25       1,267        1.8            772               1.1

4/26       1,249       -1.4            763              -1.1

4/27       1,245       -0.3            778               1.9

For the second consecutive day, that ICU bed usage actually dropped! A 0.3 decline may not be much to write home about, but any day that ICU beds open up is a good day.

The next best news is, even though the Illinois mortality rate ticked up a notch to 4.4 percent, that’s still a tenth-of-a-percent below our high and it marks its 13th straight flat day. If we were heading into the coronavirus peak, that number, by its very lagging definition, would be steadily climbing.

As you might imagine, the daily new case percentage increase popped up a bit to 4.9 percent, but it’s still far closer to a new bottom than it is to a new top. The fact that today’s Chicago Tribune reported virtually all of Illinois’ temporary medical facilities are being closed due to lack of use, further supports the disease’s deceleration.

If there’s one thing I hope I’ve taught you by now, it would be that it always pays to take all of the possible variable into account. To that end, with the test result numbers regaining some consistency, our five-day moving average is starting to regain some meaning:

Date         5-day M Average

4/27                 2,169

4/28                 2,145

4/29                 2,234

Though we will need a few more data points before it can really tell us anything.

And we have some new Kane County numbers, too!

It may be more than a little morbid, but Kane County Coroner Rob Russell, a man who never tires of seeing his name in the newspaper, is releasing a weekly countdown of the age, gender and location of each KC casualty.

Like the great John Donne, I too mourn for anyone’s passing because every such loss diminishes me, but because those separate data points are meaningless, the Coroner is clearly creating this compendium simply to sow fear and raise his public profile.

But when those 51 deaths are compiled correctly, those numbers actually have a lot to say:

Age             Deaths      %

100                   1          0.2

90-99               14        27.5

80-89               13        25.5

70-79               10        19.6

69-65                 7        13.7

60-64                 3         5.9

59-50                 4         7.8

49-40                 1         0.2

39-0                   0         0.0

I’m sure you can already see that 82 percent of these deaths consist of people 65 or older.

The next logical step would be to determine how many of them had some sort of serious underlying or preexisting condition, and since the coroner ultimately determines the cause of death, he’s certainly the one to ask.

But after repeated attempts to reach him, not only did he ghost me, but he blocked my phone number, too! And he did that because, despite talking to every other journalist on the planet, my fact-based COVID-19 reality doesn’t match his self-imposed heroic narrative. When we know exactly who’s at risk, the Coroner’s Office won’t be getting any more press, will they!

If you doubt me, please take a look at Russell’s new “Medieval” office logo. Can you say “over-the-top?” I knew you could! So, I guess it’s FOIA time! The amount of political pandering permeating this pandemic is patently beyond the pale.

But if we consider New York City’s stats, it would be more than safe to say that 90 percent of those Kane County victims suffered from another medical condition that greatly contributed to their demise.

Beyond any and all reasonable doubt, we now know that, for 70-plus year olds with a compromised immune system, this disease is far more lethal than the flu. We know it’s  somewhat worse than the flu for similar folks between 55 and 64. But when you consider that scientifically proven asymptomatic horde, the mortality rate for people under 55 is 0.002 percent, which is nothing compared to the average annual flu’s 0.1 percent.

So, how many times do I have to ask this question? Why are we forcing everyone to stay home when we know exactly who we need to protect?

There’s only three ways this pandemic ends. The first is an asteroid strike, and I gotta say, the rabble’s irrational fear of critical thinking is makin’ me really start to like this possibility. The second would be to develop a vaccine, but that’s gonna take 18 months to two years, and if this insipid shutdown lasts that long, there will be nothing to come back to.

But that’s not the only problem with that one! If you can contract the coronavirus more than once, something the WHO’s been currently considering, then a vaccine, by it’s very definition, is a patently pointless proposition.

The third, and almost as effective as the asteroid method, is to develop a herd immunity. Even though Sweden has taken a boatload of bovine manure for taking that route, their leaders are saying they’re just one or two weeks away from achieving that countrywide condition.

And then the disease starts fading into nothing more than a really bad memory.

Meanwhile, most of us are locked down at home while our leaders dither over issues that have long since been settled. I’m not sure who said, “You can pay now of your can pay later,” but they certainly got the coronavirus pandemic right!

Please let me remind you that, before you show up with all the pitchforks and torches,  I’m a social liberal as well as one of those at-risk folks whose livelihood has been unaffected by shelter-in-place. It’s simply a matter of recognizing the truth and putting it out there!

Stay safe!

10 thoughts on “The First Ward Cornavirus Report – April 29, 2020

  1. I can’t tell you how much the black and white of the numbers is calming to me. While I say I am an “apolitical” person, my leanings are the opposite of yours which to my mind makes me appreciate your straight, to the point, just the numbers reporting even more.

  2. Sorry, English major here, couldn’t help myself – one does not sew fear (unless a very creative and demonic tailor!) but rather SOW fear (as in planting the seed of….)

    • While those columns look fascinating, particularly to other medical professionals, they have absolutely no impact on the basic match we’ve been applying and on what it’s gonna take to end the pandemic.

      One of the really cool things about this universe is, math works the same everywhere and for everything. Statistics similarly applies to any set of number regardless of from where those numbers were derived.

      And those aren’t personal viewpoints, those are facts.

      Nothing is going to change the fact that, letting go of the asteroid strike, only two possibilities are gonna end this thing, a vaccine and herd immunity. And vaccines take far too long to develop, and if you can catch this thing twice, then a vaccine is impossible.

      Another endeavor that applies equally to everything is critical thinking. I’d ask you to give it a shot sometime but you’re clearly incapable of it!

      • They are fascinating, especially considering they are legitimate scientific studies published in a respected peer-reviewed journal by professionals who have been working on this stuff for decades. What’s even better about those is they provide a lot more information via the sources they cite in their reference sections.

        The wild thing about stats though is you can paint any picture you want with them. What variables are you testing, what central measures of tendency did you apply, how big was your sample and is it representative of the population distribution, what is the correlation coefficient, did you account for multicollinearity, what CI did you use, tweak any number of those and you can tell whatever story you want. So, it’s not exactly like straight-up math.

        That second article is also actually relevant to a vaccine.

        My point here being is if you’re going to play the expert, at least try to find/use information that the actual experts have published. Not only do they account for the things you discuss, but they also factor in many other variables including the R0, contact tracing, seasonality, attack rate, and so much more. Here is another that accounts for age as well since you brought it up in your post.

        https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/04/28/science.abb8001

        Noted about the critical thinking suggestion, I’ll try to get better at it. In the meantime, I’ll defer to the scientists who have studied this through undergrad, post-grad, Ph.D., and have published their research.

  3. Hi Jeff,

    As a statistics nut, try this angle on your numbers. Take the data you have compiled and project what the number of cases we would have per day if they tested 10,000 people per day every day. I am sure you will find it interesting.

  4. Jack,

    There’s a couple problem with that thought. The first is that, for the last 5 days we have been testing MORE than 10,000 people, so it’s kind of a moot point.

    The second issue is that you’d somehow have to incorporate the prevalence into those projects because it’s become somewhat of a moving target these days.

    • Hi Jeff,

      I don’t disagree with your point but when you extrapolate the data based on having the same number of tests per day you get a statistical number that makes more sense from a daily average. Even your 5 day average is skewed because its only looking at the actual number of positive cases and doesn’t consider the % positive versus tested.

      Based on your thoughts we should only look at the % positive cases and % deaths in relation to number tested.

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