The First Ward Cornavirus Report – May 2, 2020

So, Friday, though certainly not horrific, wasn’t exactly the day we’d hoped for. Thankfully, that’s somewhat mitigated by the fact that every time we hit or approach a new testing high, almost all of our statistical bets are off.

Date   Cases   % Increase  N Cases    N Tested  Prevalence  Deaths 

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

4/29   50,355            4.6          2,253         14,478       1 in 6.4       2,215

4/30   52,918            4.8          2,563         13,200       1 in 5.2       2,355

5/1     56,055            5.6          3,137         14,821       1 in 4.7       2,457

Meanwhile, 284,688 people have been tested and we’re still in fourth place.

And our new second-highest testing day solicited a record number of new cases drawing the prevalence back down to 1 in 4.7. While I’m certainly not surprised more testing has been producing more cases, I’m more than bewildered by the prevalence popping back into its previous tight range.

Facts Not Fear 3

It could be numerical noise or that it’s common for indicators to bounce around a bit as you come off the top. Only time will tell.

But what’s really strange is, our more recent robust testing (starting 4/24) coincides with the National Guard opening the Aurora Outlet Mall as a testing site. Since anyone can show up there, the only word to describe those folks would be “random!” And while that would certainly explain the 4/24 to 4/29 prevalence retreat, it does not explain the last two days.

If they’re truly relaxing the screening standard, as Governor Pritzker has suggested, then the prevalence would likely continue to retreat. Again, that can be somewhat explained by starting to tap into, as I like to call them, “the asymptomatic horde,” but it could also be a result of a false positive tests.

Given our generally insistent 1 in 4.5 prevalence, it could also mean that 20 to 25 percent of us already had or have this thing, but the only way to get to the bottom of this would be to have some statistical measure of the severity of new cases, and as far as I can tell, it doesn’t exist.

And if Covid-19 is truly that widespread, then, with the exception of protecting the most vulnerable, shelter-in-place is patently pointless because it’s not slowing down the disease at all.

So, in light of the inexplicable prevalence, we’re forced to rely on the number of COVID-19 occupied ICU beds and ventilators to get some sense of whether the disease is relaxing its grip or not, and those numbers continue to say it is!

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

4/28       1,290        0.3            777              -0.1

4/30       1,289       -0.8            785               1.0

5/1         1,263       -2.0            777              -1.0

Both ICU bed and ventilator usage dropped yesterday. Again, if we we’re going into some sort of pandemic peak, those numbers should be rising right into it. On average, it takes between 10 to 12 days for a severe coronavirus sufferer to be moved to the ICU, and with March 24 marking our first major testing day, Sunday through Tuesday will tell the tale.

If the ICU and ventilator numbers stay the same or continue to decrease, then we know more mild to asymptomatic coronavirus cases are being tested.

And I believe that will be the case because Illinois’ mortality rate, now flat for 16 consecutive days, dropped a notch to 4.3 percent. That’s significantly better than the 5.8 percent national average, too!

Now, one would expect the COVID-19 mortality rate to be consistent regardless of the number of people who have the disease, but despite that perfect logic, that’s not how this this virus works.

Taking into account the optimum five to seven-day incubation period, Illinois started out with a 1.4 percent mortality rate, and we hit a 4.5 percent peak last week. That could the result of an evolving COVID-19 death count standard, or that it’s particularly wreaking havoc in nursing homes and other such facilities.

Then the question is, will we see the mortality rate decline, or is it just going to stay where it is?

Though it would be a bit difficult because it’s a two-week lagging indicator, perhaps I can some up with a reasonable statistic based on the number of daily deaths.

But for now, with ICU bed use declining, unexpectedly empty hospital beds, and the mortality rate flat, it can only mean we’re in pretty good shape.

Stay safe!

3 thoughts on “The First Ward Cornavirus Report – May 2, 2020

  1. Look forward to your info everyday. Thank you, you must spend hours on this. I’m new to area do you have a regular editorial in local paper?

  2. Diane,

    I truly appreciate the compliment! I did write for the suburban Chicago Sun-Times papers for 8 years, but this is my primary outlet these days!

    Jeff

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