The First Ward Report – Under cover of the Coronavirus!

Before we get started, please permit this classic liberal to stipulate that, while the City of Geneva would certainly benefit from the diversity an affordable housing project would bestow, a beneficial end can never justify a nefarious means! Just like it is with any other municipal endeavor, statutory processes and procedures must be followed before that first silver shovel hits the dirt.

And following those rules is particularly important when the discussion involves something as controversial as low-income housing. But as he’s demonstrated so often in the past, Mayor Kevin Burns is making it clear that the rules don’t apply to him.

What the Mayor wants to do is cram 45 townhomes into the small eight-acre parcel behind the old Chronicle building bordered by Kaneville Road, Lewis Road, Caldwell Lane, the UP tracks, and Kaneville Court. Yikes!

Under the guise of coronavirus restrictions, the Burns cancelled all May city council meetings even though many other municipalities have successfully adopted the digital alternative. Then he used that unnecessary downtime to quietly lobby the six alderman required to move this project forward.

Burns 2

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns

His plan was to push this through when the shelter-in-place restrictions ease on Monday, June first, and the City Council reconvenes. With public participation at a pandemic minimum, the development would almost certainly be approved six to four.

The Mayor’s most fervent wish was that word wouldn’t get out until it was a fait accompli, but as evidenced by the flurry of potentially affected residents who reached out to me, that plan went over about as well as the President attempting to field simple coronavirus questions.

With that hope dashed, now he’s praying that Genevans are so preoccupied with, or terrified by, the pandemic, they wouldn’t notice or care that the public hearing requirements are being ignored.

But that scheme didn’t work, either, because the fine folks in the nearby Sterling Manner subdivision have made it clear they want their collective voices heard. And that is their right!

Then there’s this!

Given my seeming-eternal coverage of all manner of municipalities, this seasoned journalist is somewhat convinced that a development like this requires at least a two-thirds vote. But because I’m clearly off his Christmas card list, the Mayor failed to respond to my request for clarification.

So, the FOIA has been issued.

But as perilous as those procedural breaches are, they pale in comparison to the inherent issues with this affordable housing project itself. Can you say, “Doomed to fail?” I knew you could!

Every last not-doomed-to-repeat-history urban planner will tell you that stacking that many lower-income folks in a naturally segregated small space means an inexorable spiral into the kind of municipal nightmare from which you never quite wake up.

Naperville’s similar townhome initiative can only be described as an abject morass that’s been a consistent drain on city resources.

And just like the legendary Chicago alderman Paddy Bauler once warned, Geneva ain’t ready for reform – or at least an affordable housing project of this scope! Considering the city is 95 percent white with a median household income of $105,000, wouldn’t it be far more prudent to start with a small-scale project that’s integrated into an established residential area so folks can get used to the idea?

Isn’t politics always the art of the possible?

Particularly if you involve local churches, the more modest semi-public housing scenarios are the ones that tend to succeed.

To make matters much worse, like Naperville, these rental-only townhomes will surely attract Section Eight residents who have no investment in the community and almost always turn out to be a disaster of varying proportion. I’ve had a slew of friends and readers hit me with Section Eight horror stories over the years, and trust me, they’d curl your toenails.

But before you start referring to me as a closet Klansman, the Section Eight demographics break down like this: 49 percent Caucasian, 33 percent black, and 13 percent Hispanic. So, it’s actually a matter of income and not race.

The truth is, Section Eight is one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated on the American public. Not only has it failed the folks it purports to serve, but it attracts scammers, and history has proven you can’t pluck an economically disadvantaged family from a distressed urban neighborhood and plunk them down in the middle of Geneva.

The inevitable culture shock leads to an insoluble friction that only makes everyone’s lives that much more miserable. If you don’t believe me, talk to any former Aurora Jericho Circle resident.

It’s like expecting me to somehow succeed as the next Cubs centerfielder. I’ve played the game, I understand the game, and I’m in pretty good shape for a 61-year-old man, but I’m not nearly prepared to face an Aroldis Chapman fastball.

Put more simply, this affordable housing project is cursed on so many levels, I can’t believe the City Council is even considering it. There are so many better options.

On Friday, we’ll discuss the Mayor’s motives for pulling this procedural fast one, the worthy but misled enterprise behind it, and how, even if the vote goes through, the fat lady’s only warming up!

Till then!

The First Ward Cornavirus Report – As good as it’s gonna get!

For quite some time anyway.

Facts Not Fear 3

Even the Chicago Tribune, after weeks of peddling pandemic panic porn, finally caught onto the fact that Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker “moved the goalposts” with his absurd five-stage reopening Illinois plan.

He first said we had to flatten the curve, and yesterday is about as flat as it’s gonna get, but now he’s saying we have to eradicate the disease which is a complete and utter medical impossibility. Regardless of our best efforts, it ain’t going anywhere for at least two years!

But that doesn’t mean you need to cower in your crawlspace and cry, because our last six datapoints show the coronavirus is on the decline – and that’s the best-case scenario right now. So, here are the newest numbers:

Date   Cases   % Increase  N Cases    N Tested  Prevalence  Deaths 

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

5/2     58,505            4.3          2,450         15,208       1 in 6.2       2,559

5/3     61,499            4.8          2,994         19,417       1 in 6.5       2,618

5/4     63,840            3.8          2,341         13,834       1 in 6          2,662

 

5/5     65,962            3.3          2,122         13,139       1 in 6.2       2,838

5/6     68,232            3.4          2,270         14,974       1 in 6.6       2,974

5/7     70,873            3.8          2,641         17,783       1 in 6.7       3,111

5/8     73,760           4.0          2,887         20,671       1 in 7.1       3,241

5/9     76,085            3.1          2,325         16,617       1 in 7.1       3,349

5/10   77,741            2.1          1,656         13,653       1 in 8.2       3,406

The nice thing about working with six days of data is it tells you a heck of a lot more than just a scant 24-hour period – and I’m sure my crack deputy statisticians have already determined exactly where we’re gonna go with this!

The first thing you noticed is, while we hit a new 20,671 Friday daily testing result record, the previous daily new case record still stands. Again, those are the kind of disconnects we want to see.

The second trend our robust application of seventh-grade math predicted back on March 27 is, despite a far broader testing effort starting in late April, the new daily case percentage increase has faithfully trended downward from 46 percent to a rock bottom 2.1 percent!

Put more simply, the disease doubled, or more, every day when it first hit Illinois, but now that doubling dynamic takes 18 long days! Can you say “deceleration?” I knew you could! And again, until we develop a herd immunity, that’s as good as it’s gonna get.

Of course, Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will take credit for that decline by claiming social distancing and shelter-in-place are working, but they’d be wrong!

First, even folks with the poorest eyesight noticed what I did during two visits to the St. Charles Lowe’s last week:

  • All customers were wearing masks, but 40 percent of them were wearing them below their nose which renders them worthless.
  • All staff were wearing masks, but 70 percent of them were wearing them below their nose which renders them worthless.
  • With all those exposed noses, there was no semblance of social distancing in the garden center, and the store itself wasn’t much better. Granted the garden center is outside, but people had to navigate those small “aisles” and the checkout line was enormous with people right on top of each other.

About 40 percent of Sunday morning Meijer shoppers engaged in the noseless mask proposition, and social distancing has been abandoned in my subdivision such that neighbors are walking right up to each other now. No one moves off the asphalt path when they pass other walkers anymore, either

But the icing on that deteriorating social distancing cake was all the obvious Mother’s Day get togethers as indicated by the vast number of vehicles parked in front of homes throughout Geneva yesterday.

“But, Jeff! If social distancing has gone the way of the compact disc and landline, then why are the numbers so good?”

That’s an excellent question which can be answered in two simple words – “the prevalence” – which set a full-on pandemic retreat record of 1 in 8.2 yesterday. Once again, that means it took eight tests to generate one positive result.

To put that stat in perspective, had we tallied 13,653 tests and day between April 1 and 23, the positive results would’ve come to a record setting 3,034 cases. But our actual Sunday number is slightly more than half that!

One possibility is the disease has become less contagious, but there’s no scientific evidence of that. The only alternative is, even with the shutdown attempting to forestall the inevitable, we’re finally starting to develop the herd immunity that will finally put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror.

Considering we’re still not testing asymptomatic people, it’s the only explanation for the disease suddenly seeming less virulent. And that’s despite shelter-in-place, not because of it. Shelter-in-place should cause a decline in cases, not a decline in prevalence.

And the COVID-19 occupied ICU beds fully support that! Considering how Illinois’ massive testing leap started uncovering record case numbers on April 24, ICU bed use should be skyrocketing two weeks later – and so should the number of deaths!

But here are those numbers;

Date   ICU Beds     %+     Ventilators      %+

4/30       1,289       -0.8            785               1.0

5/1         1,263       -2.0            777              -1.0

5/2         1,250       -1.0            789               1.5

5/3         1,232       -1.4            759              -3.8

5/4         1,232        0.0            763               0.5

5/5         1,266        2.7            780               2.2

5/6         1,231       -2.7            780               0.0

5/7         1,253        1.7             766             -1.8

5/8         1,222       -2.4            727             -5.0

5/9         1,215       -0.5            739              1.6

5/10       1,232        1.3            709             -3.9

In just a week-and-a-half, COVID-19 occupied ICU beds dropped by 4.4 percent which couldn’t possibly happen if the disease was getting worse and some sort of peak still beckoned! And at a time when the number of deaths should similarly be increasing, they’ve declined five straight days to just 57 on Sunday.

As a result of the newspapers finally performing some semblance of due diligence, we now know that 40 percent off Illinois coronavirus casualties have come in nursing homes or long-term care facilities that refused to take the appropriate precautions. Eliminate those entirely unnecessary deaths and our mortality rate would plummet from 4.3 to 2.6 percent.

That still sucks, but it’s a critical reference point for determining exactly who this disease kills and who we need to protect.

But wait! There’s more! Even though the somewhat erratic testing effort makes it much more difficult, our five-day new case moving average has meaning again:

Date         5-day M Average

5/2                   2,989

5/3                   2,689

5/4                   2,697

5/5                   2,609

5/6                   2,436

5/7                   2,474

5/8                   2,453

5/9                   2,449

5/10                 2,356

For the first time since this thing started, that average has declined for eight straight days which is beyond statistically significant. This is the number that Pritzker and Lightfoot should be looking at because it eliminates the noise.

Meanwhile, since we won’t see a 28 consecutive day case decline for the next two years, that means Illinois will remain shut down, and that means embracing the kind of economic devastation from which no country could possibly recover.

The bottom line is, in spite our Illinois elected officials’ worst efforts, the pandemic is working itself out as all pandemics do, while those leaders, intoxicated with their new power, have completely failed us.

Short of a vaccine, these numbers – all hard evidence – tell us this is as good as the pandemic is going to get for the foreseeable future.

We’ll be back with a new report on Friday or next Monday.

The First Ward Cornavirus Report – May 6, 2020

I can’t tell you how much I regret insisting our new social justice plague warriors and the Governor explain exactly what their COVID-19 plan is, because now that Governor Pritzker has released the details of his “plan,” it’s worse than no plan at all.

But rather than listen to me launch into another rant, my good friend and attorney, Jeff Meyer, summed it up perfectly:

Let me translate this for you! J.B. Pritzker will not be “re-opening” Illinois anytime soon. Only a trust fund baby who has never had to work and has never known what it means to worry about how he will pay his mortgage or put food on his table, could come up with a plan so callous and insensitive to what it will do to millions of Illinois families.

Realistically, under these metrics, it will be after July 4th before Pritzker may consider the opening of bars and restaurants (by which time there will be none to re-open), more mandatory distance learning in the fall (meaning there will be no daycare available for working parents and we’ll be stuck again trying to both work and play teacher at home), and probably no return to “normalcy” until late fall at the earliest.

But when you truly consider those impossible metrics, you’ll quickly understand that Jeff’s being optimistic. Since statistics never travel in a straight line, the goals Pritzker’s set to relax the restrictions cannot be met, and the few regions that might manage to meet them, will quickly generate more asymptomatic and mild cases, immediately backsliding into the previous shelter-in-place status.

Facts Not Fear 3

Illinois small business’s only hope is to defy this unconstitutional order and reopen on their own terms because the cure cannot become worse than the disease. Like many others have already done, I would encourage our local mayors to issue declarations making it clear they will not enforce the Governor’s unconstitutional order.

Then we need an attorney with real political clout – a Jim Thompson, Ty Fahner, Tony Valukas, or Dan Webb – to march into that Chicago federal court building and challenge the Governor head on before this impending epic economic disaster reaches the point of no return.

As far as today’s numbers go, since we’ll always have outlier days, the number of death’s did increase as did the mortality rate, but the prevalence backed off to 1 in 6.2 and we hit a new low daily case percentage increase of 3.3 percent, shattering the previous 3.8 percent record.

But as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing you the facts, this process – and particularly the Governor’s blatant shortsightedness – is truly starting to wear on me. My family is and will be fine, but it’s beyond difficult and depressing to watch so many good friends suffer as a result of this abject demagoguery and general stupidity.

So, when my longsuffering wife and my good friend Paul suggested that I take a break from coronavirus reporting, and I couldn’t summon up the energy to disagree, I think that break is a very good idea.

But don’t worry! I’ll share some humorous passages from the impending “Diary of a Curmudgeon” and continue to write on other topics, but, for my own sanity, I do have to let these reports go for a while.

When I do get back to it, it will likely be on an every other or every third day basis. I truly appreciate your support and understanding.

Meanwhile, politically, let’s hope for the best while we prepare for the worst.

The First Ward Cornavirus Report – May 5, 2020

As you know, I generally like to get right to the numbers, but in the words of those great philosophers OK Go, “Here we go again!”  Because the same bleeps who’ve gotten it wrong all along, were somehow allowed to re-run their incessantly incorrect pandemic models and now they’re saying we’re all gonna die because some states had the temerity to reopen too early.

Whoa! I need to take a breath after that sentence!

Those fine folks at FEMA said the consequence of those foolhardy governors will be a massive eightfold increase to 200,000 new coronavirus cases a day, with the daily death toll “surging” to 3,000, nearly double what it is now.

Facts Not Fear 2

Meanwhile, the eternally errant epidemiologists at the University of Washington, the ones who wouldn’t know the real world if it bit ‘em in the ass, are telling us the “premature relaxation” of social distancing will result in 134,000 total COVID-19 deaths by August. That’s more than double the current count.

And the press just eats it up!

Yes! Those tragic numbers will come to pass if we start kissing random strangers and coughing on every old person we encounter, but that’s the only way these statistical impossibilities will ever happen.

You see, what the “modelers” don’t tell you is these impossible numbers are based on simulations in which we’ve shrugged off absolutely all coronavirus precautions and thrown our senior citizens to the plague-ridden wolves, but that’s clearly not gonna be the case.

Don’t forget! These are the same mopes who told us:

  • California would see 26 million cases in eight weeks, but they’re sitting at just 56,000 in seven.
  • Chicago would have 40,000 acute hospitalization in “a few weeks,” but the Second City has seen a mere 1,232 in six long weeks.
  • Hospital ICUs would be so overrun that we better build temporary facilities, but now they’re all being dismantled at the purported peak of the disease.

If you doubt me, let’s compare the struggling shelter-in-place United States with Sweden where there are no coronavirus restrictions. We’re experiencing 3,665 coronavirus cases per million inhabitants while Sweden’s seen just 2,299. It certainly doesn’t seem like the shut down strategy is working, does it?

We’ve has logged 211 deaths per million while Sweden’s is marginally higher at 283.  But that higher number may be explained by Sweden’s 41.1 median age (38.2 here), and they aren’t destroying their economy in the process, either!

But here’s the kicker! Despite neither the FEMA or U of  W “study” having been peer reviewed, in their headlong crusade to create more panic, fear, and loathing, the press is making that bovine manure headline news. Only the Chicago Tribune – in one short sentence – admitted the insane FEMA numbers “had not been vetted.”

To make matters so much worse, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker is suddenly shrieking that COVID-19 patients now occupy 73 percent of southwestern Illinois ICU beds. What he’s not saying is that region had a limited number of ICU beds to begin with.

He’s also not telling you that just 36 percent of Chicago’s ICU beds are being used by coronavirus patients and those numbers are falling. Then Pritzker failed to mention the temporary overflow facilities like McCormick Place are being dismantled because that evidence doesn’t support his stilted narrative.

Then, after crying wolf for the tenth time, J. B. wonders why no one’s listening to him anymore, and that utterly irresponsible newspaper coverage has a similar equal and opposite effect.

As is par for the coronavirus course, neither our elected officials, nor the media, nor our newly minted social justice plague warriors ever offer any alternative to shutting down the country for another 1.5 years. So, I’ll ask all of ‘em one more time! What’s the plan?

With all that finally said, let’s get to the numbers! Since it was another good day, our analysis will be brief:

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

5/2     58,505            4.3          2,450         15,208       1 in 6.2       2,559

5/3     61,499            4.8          2,994         19,417       1 in 6.5       2,618

5/4     63,840            3.8          2,341         13,834       1 in 6          2,662

We’ve officially tested 333,147 residents and, until it changes, this will be the last time I mention we’re in fourth place in the state rankings.

But what’s the best news, class? That’s right:

1. A retreating 4.1 percent mortality rate and just 44 Monday deaths means most of the cases from two-ish weeks ago are either mild or asymptomatic. There’s no other possible explanation. And that’s particularly encouraging at a time when those higher case numbers should mean more coronavirus casualties

2. A 1 in 6 prevalence means testing more people is producing fewer positive results, and that’s borne out by the daily new case increase percentage which fell back to its 3.8 percent low.

3. Contrary to Pritzker’s proclamations, we haven’t had a statewide increase in COVID19 occupied ICU beds for five straight days. That would be statistically impossible if we were  moving towards some sort of pandemic peak.

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

5/2         1,250       -1.0            789               1.5

5/3         1,232       -1.4            759              -3.8

5/4         1,232        0.0            763               0.5

Critical thinking is a magical thing, Dear Readers, and even thought the rabble will hate you for it, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Stay safe!

 

 

 

The First Ward Cornavirus Report – May 4, 2020

Sunday’s numbers may well have been our best yet with every indicator lining up in a positive way! I don’t want to get too giddy until we see a few more days like this, but it is a massive morale booster nonetheless!

Here’s the table:

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

5/2     58,505            4.3          2,450         15,208       1 in 6.2       2,559

5/3     61,499            4.8          2,994         19,417       1 in 6.5       2,618

Illinois has tested 319,313 people, and to no one’s surprise, we’re still in fourth place in the national coronavirus rankings. But the best news is, a new record testing day – 19 percent better than the previous April 24 high – produced just our second-best new case day. That sent the prevalence back out to 1 in 6.5.

Facts Not Fear 3

Remember! Having to test more people to get fewer positive results is the kind of disconnect that tells us the doom and gloom press and epidemiologists continue to get it wrong. I know I’m starting to sound like broken record, but the State really needs to start tracking how many of our new cases are asymptomatic.

But there are other clues that indicate those folks are finally being tested, too!

The first is the mortality rate which slipped a notch to 4.2 percent, the lowest level since April 19. If you recall, we discussed how the mortality rate should always be the mortality rate, but it will retreat if we are testing more of the “asymptomatic horde.”

The other promising factor is just 59 people died of the disease yesterday. And that’s  particularly encouraging when increased testing led to higher case numbers and we should’ve seen a commensurate spike in deaths ten to fourteen days down the road.

But we’re witnessing a rather steep decline instead.

And that trend is supported by the largest drop in COVID-19 occupied ICU beds and ventilators yet:

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

5/2         1,250       -1.0            789               1.5

5/3         1,232       -1.4            759              -3.8

Again, considering the ten to twelve days it typically takes for a serious coronavirus case to hit the ICU, April 24’s then record case number should’ve meant some seriously crowded ICUs now. But instead, we haven’t seen an increase in ICU bed usage for four straight days!

And that’s the clearest sign that the pandemic isn’t nearly taking the toll the “experts” declared it would. This has nothing to do with shelter-in-place, either, because increased cases should, by definition, always mean busier ICUs and more deaths.

Our second-best new case day meant the daily new case percentage increase came in a little higher at 4.8 percent, but just like all of our other indicators, it’s telling us the disease is decelerating in all the ways we need it to decelerate.

Again, if the opposite were true, would Chicago be shutting down the temporary McCormick Place medical facility?

But as Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot persisting in demanding we stay home – and Lightfoot is now threatening arrests – I want to ask them, “What’s your plan?,” because neither one seems to have one.

Thanks to their heavy handedness and a raft of progressives shouting “stay home” at every turn, for all intents and purposes, shelter-in-place and social distancing is moot! That certainly was the case at the St. Charles Lowe’s and in my adjoining neighborhood this weekend!

So, are we all gonna simply sit on our asses for the two years it takes to develop a vaccine – a vaccine that may never work – because the unavoidable fact is, the second we start reopening in earnest is the second we’ll have to face down that inevitable second coronavirus wave.

Not only that, but I’d like to ask those same progressive brothers and sisters, the ones who so self-righteously insist they know what’s best for the rest of us, how are 30 million newly unemployed American workers going to weather another month of economic disaster? What’s your plan for them? Another $1,200? Are you going to start taking them into your homes?

Here’s an article by an author who impeccably argues that layoff related deaths will supersede the COVID-19 variety by 41 percent! So, if anyone can tell me what the shelter-in-place goal is right now, I’m all ears, because there doesn’t seem to be one!

Delaying the onslaught of the pandemic so we could get a better handle on it was the right thing to do, but now we’re only putting off the inevitable. Herd immunity is our only option,  so we may as well get started!

Stay safe!

The First Ward Cornavirus Report – May 3, 2020

Again, if I had to apply a more descriptive title to this piece it would be “Back on track” even though I’m not sure we were ever truly off track!

An erudite reader noted our last two out-of-whack prevalence days were likely the result of the State’s sudden focus on testing nursing home residents. If that was the case, and the increased senior facility press coverage would indicate it is, it would certainly account for that strange shift back to 1 in 4.5.

Facts Not Fear

So, here are all the new numbers:

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

5/2     58,505            4.3          2,450         15,208       1 in 6.2       2,559

299,896 Illinoisan have been tested and Illinois is still in fourth place in the state rankings.

As a good friend reminded me, when it comes to the testing process, we’re not talking about tests that occurred that day – we’re talking about the test results that came in that day. Depending upon where you’re tested, you might get the results right away or it could take as long as four days.

Bill Gates recently lamented that having to wait four days for results while you infect your friends and family isn’t a very helpful proposition. But, despite any lag time, our numbers still work because time is always a statistician’s friend, as in any testing anomalies will work themselves out over time.

With that stipulation entered into the record, we’re back to the kind of disconnects we like to see! Our second-best test result day brought us our third-highest new case day pushing the prevalence back to 1 in 6.2. That means it took more tests to get fewer positive results.

It would also appear that, for those with reported coronavirus cases, the Illinois mortality rate truly rests somewhere between 4.3 and 4.4 percent. But if we’re really starting to test mild to asymptomatic virus sufferers, that number should start to retreat.

The next best disconnect news is, considering the average 10 to 12 day time frame for a severe COVID-19 case to move to the ICU, our former record April 23 new case day, so far, has not lead to a commensurate increase in ICU bed usage:

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

5/2         1,250       -1.0            789               1.5

In fact, the number of Illinois COVID-19 occupied beds actually dropped by 1 percent, instead. And while that 13-bed decline doesn’t seem like much, anytime a statistic expected to rise, decreases, it’s an exceptionally good sign.

Ventilator use did go up, but that tells us more about the severity of the hospitalized cases than anything about the pandemic.

It was also encouraging to see our daily new case increase percentage drop back to 4.1 percent. That means that, even in the face of some record case days, the spread of the disease continues to decelerate. The fact that Chicago’s shutting down the McCormick Place overflow facility certainly supports that theory.

So, the statistical lesson here is, it doesn’t pay to panic over just one or two potential outlier days. I know the newspapers’ doom-and-gloom drumbeat headlines make it a lot more difficult to stay sane, but you can always take solace in the fact that the numbers never lie.

Lastly, getting back to my roving reporter days, my wife and I drove through the St. Charles’s Lowe’s parking lot around 1 p.m. yesterday, and let me tell you, social distancing, particularly in the garden area, was almost as impossible as sneaking dawn past a rooster. And only two-thirds of the happy shoppers were wearing masks, too!

Furthermore, if you believe Apple Data, then shelter-in-place actually ended about three weeks ago! But Governor Pritzker, taking a page from the Malcolm Crowe playbook (Look it up!), refuses to see it’s already dead. It will be interesting to see if there’s a coronavirus spike in five to seven days, but since no one’s playing along anymore, it’s time to reopen businesses and get back to work!

Stay safe!

 

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!