Good news on coronavirus in the U.S. as of June 23, 2020?

Some good news, right?

Source: United States Coronavirus: 2,424,168 Cases and 123,473 Deaths – Worldometer

Deaths are often counted on the day they are recorded by public health, not on the actual day of death. Many states do not update data on the weekend. Hence, the 5-day pattern in the chart, above.

The feared exponential curve was short lived, perhaps due to counter measures. In my state, the curve went linear about two weeks before lock downs were put in force.

Source: United States Coronavirus: 2,424,168 Cases and 123,473 Deaths – Worldometer
Ratio of 7-day Average of New Deaths / 7-day average of New Cases This chart is for my state of Oregon.

This chart shows that over time, the mortality rate is decreasing. This could be because of:

  • More testing, and finding more not very sick cases.
  • An increase in more false positives. We are now testing many asymptomatic people who might be false positives. Due to Bayes Theorem, this could result in many positive tests that are not actually sick people. Asymptomatic people really need to be tested twice – but are probably not tested twice. Two positive results in a row eliminates most of the Bayes false positive problem.
  • The disease is spreading among a younger population who get less sick. Florida has seen its median age for patients testing positive drop to 37, which is down by about 15 years from where it was.
  • The disease itself has changed and is not striking people as hard as previously?
  • Insert your explanation here!

No one yet knows why we are seeing fewer hospitalizations and deaths per new cases discovered. One hypothesis is the increase in testing and finding more asymptomatic cases.

“The easiest thing to look at is case counts, which is not a perfect metric since you have to factor in increased testing,” UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford told SFGATE earlier this month. “We’re finding more asymptomatic cases now, so it’s not exactly comparable to March and April, when most detected cases were symptomatic. Now in May and June, we’re catching more asymptomatic cases so it can be hard to interpret since we’re finding more infections.”

Similar thoughts being said about Southern California’s spike in cases. That report features this frequently appearing inane quote:

The continued rise in new cases came amid the first weekend of more business sectors reopening, as bars, card rooms and some personal care services were given the green light to resume operations Friday, provided they take certain precautions.

Due to the incubation period – there is a lag between contact and symptoms or positive tests – a rise in new cases before and on your opening weekend is not due to your opening weekend. Yet the media keeps pushing this false correlation.

In my state, you could not get a Covid-19 test for March and April unless you were:

  • already hospitalized for pneumonia
  • lived in a skill nursing or elder care center and had all of the narrowly defined symptoms (100.4+ degree fever, shortness of breath, etc)
  • or had all of the narrowly defined symptoms and had been in close extended contact with a confirmed case.

By late May, anyone can pay a fee and get tested. My rural community now has drive up Covid-19 test centers – just call ahead for an appointment. They now encourage everyone with any illness symptoms or anyone who thinks they might have been in contact, to get a test. Obviously, we are now testing – and confirming – a lot of mild cases that never got anyone’s attention 2 months ago.

And a personal observation: March 3, 2020 I came down with a head cold. Within a couple of days I had muscle aches and pains and a bad headache and a mild sore throat. By March 7th or so, I developed a dry cough and had a fever of 99.4 (low grade fever for several days). The dry cough lasted until March 23d, went away for a few days, then came back as an even milder dry cough for a few more days before disappearing. The dry cough felt like a ticklish area at the top of the bronchial tubes. I had never experienced a dry cough like that before. In May, I described this to two doctors who both said it would have been nice if I could have been tested in March. One suggested I take an antibody test, but I declined in that the results are not – for now – actionable. And that the is false positive rate is extremely high when the prevalence of a disease remains low (as it is locally).

The media focuses exclusively on a daily body count and daily new cases, neither of which are useful to understanding what is going on – but they do make for scary, fear inducing, click-bait headlines. Basically, the news media’s pandemic reporting has been near worthless. That’s why I have maintained my own web page of charts for my state.

Any comments on this blog about Covid-19 or disease epidemiology are for Entertainment Purposes Only. I have no expertise in this subject and you should assume that I am an idiot and anything I write is stupid and that I probably cherry picked the data or don’t know what I am doing.

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