Monday, May 3, 2021

Interpreting those numbers

Friday's post included a set of numbers, organized by SIGNIFICANT DATE, for Worldwide, USA, California, and the four adjacent Agricultural counties where we have been living.   Herein, I will also refer to the numbers for Tulare County itself.

The dates I chose:

A. January 22, 2020, the date of the first Confirmed Case in the USA

B. February 6, 2020, the date of the first Confirmed Death in the USA.   Trump two days later says "the flu kills 25-60K per year., dwarfs our 15 or so cases"  

C. March 6, 2020, the date President Trump said "we've got a million test kits ready to go",  AND the date I first went to the Emergency Room in Visalia, CA for 'shortness of breath'

D. April 3, 2020, the date of my last (5th) ER visit; ten days after Trump says "Safe to re-open by Easter"

E. April 30, 2020, the date of my first published COVID-19 Dashboard, and the date that Trump tweets to "protest masks in Michigan"

F. May 7, 2020, the date I released a public version of the DASHBOARD

G. April 30, 2021 (updated numbers from last night's post)


There are several stunning things to note in these early statistics

1. In the first two months worldwide, 100,000+ cases and 3,000+ deaths, but the US was 0.2% of this.

2. In the nest two months (March/April), the US cases were an astonishing 58% of all those in the rest of the world, and US deaths were 46% of the rest of the world.   This is the period during which President Trump was pronouncing it a minor problem, supporting and urging protests against Democratic governors who were desperately trying to urge masks to stem the tide.  

3. During this period (March/April), it wasn't clear just how deadly COVID-19 was, but the figures show that 6% of confirmed cases in the US and 7% in the rest of the world died in this same period.   Given what we later learned, that the disease typically did not kill right away, but instead had a 3 to 4 week latency, the numbers were even more appalling.   10.2% for WW, 8.2% for the USA.

4. Elders were most susceptible, with nursing homes the worst target.   Nearly 25% of those infected over age 75 died during this period, both worldwide and in the USA.    Small wonder that people were scared; it was trying to abate this fear that Trump allegedly kept trying to downplay the threat.

5. Treatment, and spread of infection to younger groups (notably in meat packing houses and prisons), lowered the death rate per confirmed case, but in truth the pandemic would rage for more than a year.

Friday, April 30, 2021

A year plus for COVID--ready to something else?

 Well, THAT was some year.    From when do you count?   And how to keep score?

The CDC counted from the first recorded USA confirmed case and then the first confirmed death from COVID-19.   I could count from the first day I felt sick enough to go to the ER, or maybe the 5th.  And yet another is when I decided to try to build a COVID-19 Dashboard, and some might count from when it went 'public'.    These are mostly personal choices, but they present an array of dates for an anniversary.

January 22, 2020 was the first recorded confirmed case in the USA; February 6th the first death.

March 6, 2020 was my first ER visit; April 3rd my 5th.   

I announced the COVID-19 Dashboard on April 30--yes, one year ago today

And it went "public" on May 7th.


On January 22, 2020, there were 557 cases in the world, and 17 deaths.

On Feb 6, there were 30,802 WW cases, and 635 deaths.   In America, just 11 cases, and the first death

On March 6, 101,291 WW cases, 3,459 deaths.   USA had 231 / 19; Calif had 79 / 4     The four adjacent Agri counties of CA (Kern, Tulare, Kings, and Fresno) had NONE

On April 3, 4weeks later, WW was 1,104,813 / 59,407     USA was 269,391 / 6,441  Ag Co's  380 / 6

A year ago today ---  WW  3,254,597 / 231,528     USA   1,056,479 / 60,356    Ag Co's  3,099 / 64

Today?    148,957,666 / 3,142,827          31,560,377  /  566,506            268,076   /  4,034


Analysis to follow --- deadly, to be sure

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Context for USA vs CALIF vs our counties

 It's always a question whenever something goes wrong--as the event unfolds, who believes what in the chaos and noise?   And yes, we could say that, profoundly, about the tragic events of January 6 at the national capital, but I am thinking today primarily about the ongoing ravaging Covid pandemic.

Many folk we've talked with this week have seemingly turned blasé about the virus.  Is it due to the imminent (perhaps) arrival of a vaccine, or the domination of political news instead, or the "pandemic fatigue" now bandied about as 'normal'?   Even our data source, USA Facts, has struggled to keep their site updated, or even accurate--something we've not experienced at all in the first nine months of the pandemic

And now, California, said to be 'on top' of this virus almost from the get-go, is 'the worst' in America.  Meanwhile, 1 million Californians have signed a recall petition for Governor Newsom because he has the gumption to insist on controlled lockdowns (thwarting our precious freedom to kill others or die).

So, just from a data-driven perspective, how bad is it?   Here, grouped by 10 day intervals, are the last six intervals for the US data, the CA data, and the three Agricultural counties where I currently live

So, in six weeks, American cases have doubled, and deaths are up by a factor of 3.  So much for the issue about the Thanksgiving surge.  YUP, we had one.   How about for the Christmas holidays--well, we don't know yet, but the first eight days of January are up 31% nationally over the previous high (of Dec 21-31).   Is a mere 31% a surge on top of record numbers?   Well, if your stock market holdings went up 31%, you'd likely be astounded.   

But while America doubled in cases, our state was up by a factor of 6.5x--let me state that again, UP BY SIX and a HALF TIMES, and our local counties kept pace.   Deaths?  Well, compare the graphs and it is easy to see the same SIX and a HALF TIMES, but note that the swift rise was delayed by two weeks on average.   So, if we just have experienced another 31% increase in cases, we'll likely be up somewhere close to TEN TIMES the average death rate as we move through January 2021.  

Hard for me to be blasé about all this; how about you?

Friday, January 1, 2021

So, how bad is the holiday spike so far

 We've compared a number of regions (e.g. counties, states) in previous posts.  For this post, I'd like to illustrate our three local counties (the BIG AGricultural Counties for California) once again.   

We've discussed these in previous posts.   See, for example, June 7, July 6, July 13 and Nov 21.

Well, this new graphic compares the June/July spike (our previous 'all-time' high) to the past few weeks

Note the characteristic lag in deaths vs. Confirmed cases.   The troubling thing here is that quite possibly the true death impact of the 51,000 cases from Dec 8-Dec 28 are not yet reflected in the huge spike from Dec 21-28.   We'll see, and let's hope it doesn't rise much higher if at all.

Think of it this way, though:  51,000 cases for a population of about 2.5 million.  Says 1 in 50 people in these 3 counties were confirmed in a three week period, for a pandemic that is now within three weeks of a year's duration.    At that rate, 1 in 3 people would be confirmed over a year.   I'm 80, love to have the vaccine do its work as soon as practical.

We called yesterday to try to find a schedule for me to get the vaccine--just as with tests in our county in March, the answer was "we don't have any vaccine, and we have no idea when we might get some, let alone an idea of who will qualify first."

Meanwhile, keep the faith

South Dakota and choropleths and fake data

 Some fascinating (to statisticians) numbers have surfaced.   First of all, December was far and away America's worst Covid month to date.   Sad, and true.   The Thanksgiving Spike did in fact appear, and a few places, notably California, especially suffered.   We'll report some of that in a future post.  Oddly, a few places that were not doing well, e.g. South Dakota, did much better than anticipated.   

South Dakota appears to have done particularly well by seeming to erase a number of their cases this week.    Here, for example are the statistics for four of their 66 counties (Beadle, Hughes, Minnehaha, and Pennington) from January  22 through October 31

And here's the count from November 1 through December 29 

Which gives a net overall year for those four counties as follows:


WOW--they were able to have 16,713 cases in just these four counties decide not to be Covid-related after all, and 29 who died weren't from Covid upon further review, but from underlying causes.   After suffering a heavy media attack in November, was Governor Kristi Noem  able to persuade her Health Department to change the data in the last two months?  True, she was abetted by locals--recall that South Dakota was the scene of the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August that eventually was traced to more than 300,000 Covid cases in the Midwest, an event that Noem defended vigorously at the time, and throughout the autumn.

These four counties are not the only place in South Dakota with such manipulation.   Here's the national choropleth for November and December -- note how few places are white, e.g. pristine.  Amazingly, virtually ALL OF THEM are in SOUTH DAKOTA

Compare that to the national choropleth for January 22 through October 31, and no anomalies leap out

On the national scene, it is worth noting perhaps that November and December (even with the South Dakota subtractions) had 53% of the cases for the entire year.  Here's the past 59 days

And here's the national total for 344 days

Looking just at South Dakota choropleths, here is the Jan 22-Oct 31 graph next to Nov 1-Dec 29

So, just what the hell is happening in South Dakota?   Perusal of South Dakota newspapers is not at all revealing, but review of several independent sources shows a different story.   Here's the Harvard data 

And here's the CDC data, through December 31 

So, let's look at Minnehaha County on our Dashboard.  Here's Jan 22-Dec 27

And here's Jan 22-Dec 28.   MUCH BETTER, don't you think?

So, it appears that Harvard and CDC think it is still pretty high, and in fact has added 823 new confirmed cases and 13 deaths in the past three days.   So, are we seeing truly manipulated data or is this just an aberration of distorted facts temporarily in USAFacts?

The above analysis "popped out" from just comparing the national choropleths last night.   And it certainly gave me some interesting challenges for 'what happened'.   But it apparently is NOT an aberrant governor, nor malfeasance.    Instead, upon digging in, it is apparent that during the Christmas holidays, someone at USAFacts got some tables mixed up, and assigned the updated columns for all the new cases and deaths, displaced by one row.   So, Minnehaha county's data went to Moody county; Lincoln's data went to Lyman county, and Pennington's data went to Perkins county.    So, my guess is that next week, this will all be straightened around, but we'll hold the anomalous data in our database forever.   Here's the tipoff--comparing recent changes by the 'worst' counties and the 'best'

So, a wild goose chase after all.   But proof positive that the overall choropleths can reveal anomalous problems easily, something that I have asserted for years, but have never had a better demonstration

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

November wasn't pretty

 We've all become even more tired of the pandemic, and its most recent surge.   Dr. Fauci and others keep warning about travel for the holidays, and suggest that we are on the cusp of the biggest surge yet.  I don't know about your colleagues, but ours have just sighed -- "ENOUGH ALREADY" seems to be the most prevalent response, while the Non-Believers (and there are plenty in our neighborhood) -- exclaimed with profane comments.

And yet, the news is getting ever more real

As one local specific, seven -- actually ALL SEVEN -- of the OR techs at our county hospital all got Covid from their own party last week.   Talk about infuriating the hospital leadership, not to mention affecting scheduled surgeries . . . .    As the director said, "WHAT THE 'ELL WERE THEY THINKING?"

It turns out that November was one-third of the nation's total confirmed cases for the whole year.   I put together some choropleths (geo-spatial maps) for per capita confirmed cases and deaths that show the first six months of the pandemic in America, the next three months, and then November.    I'm sure that you all remember how we compute these--there is a great interactive website that I commissioned and we maintain, at  Check it out, and have some fun.

If we start with these pictures, it is clear that the first period was very localized--deaths mostly in high-density urban settings and the Native American reservations (the upper left-hand choropleth).   The second period captured heavy case-loads in the South and upper Midwest, with both a high density death-rate in the South, and a rising incidence in the Upper Midwest.   The third--this past month of November--is center-weighted for cases in the Upper Midwest, but also in the Rocky Mountains, while the case-rates in the South have clearly declined.

The lower right-hand corner shows the entire year for America--the clearest conclusion here is that this Covid-19 pandemic has touched nearly every U.S. county to a significant degree.  If your county is orange on that map, it says that at least 1 person in 30 has been infected locally.  Death-rates are not quite so distributed, but even there, more than half of the counties (most in the South and Southwest) are denoted on the choropleth.

Let's turn to the data itself.   As noted above, the number of Confirmed Cases was nearly equal for each of the three periods.   Deaths, though, declined precipitously, so that the odds of dying from Covid-19 if you contracted it has gone from 3.5% to 0.8% -- more than 75% reduction.   Granted, a sizable part of this is due to a shift in the age of confirmed victims to much younger, more healthy patients, but it is also true that treatments have sizably improved.   Getting Covid is not nearly as dangerous today as it was eight months ago.

It turns out that each of those three periods had roughly the same number of total cases, but the periods were much more compressed.  Thus, the case rate first doubled, and then tripled--that should be a WOW for practically any observer.    Because the death-rate has come down dramatically, the total deaths for each period on a daily basis has been just about constant, although it did rise nearly 50% in the most recent period.  This is the statistic being focused on just now by the CDC and Dr. Fauci, and indeed it augurs to rise with the rapidly inflated rate of cases recently.   Bear in mind that there is usually a three week lag in deaths from confirmed cases, so the spate of high cases in the past 30 days may portend a high surge in deaths in December.

So, taken together, it is not yet time to let our guard down.  Au contrare, now it is imperative to heed the advice and stay vigilant, stay safe.   Viva la vaccine, but we're a long ways from having it universally available.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Some folk are sensible

 I've been critical of nonchalant or devil-may-care or even more ignorant attitudes about Covid in these posts, and in fact, a main motivator for my Dashboard has been to try to educate local leaders and citizens to the dangerous facts about this pandemic in our own area.  The tragedy unfolding in the Dakotas has been a particular target in the past three months, post the insanity of allowing / encouraging the Sturgis motorcycle rally and the governor denials for both states.

Recently, as each became the deadliest spots on earth, the North Dakota governor 'got with the program' and said, "Hey, let's use masks after all".   Wow!   But then, the viral post from the South Dakota nurse who said victims were still in denial even as they were dying--whew!  Viz. November 16 post.

So it was particularly encouraging to see the following news story this morning, from Mark Fisher et al, "Head Home or Hunker Down: The Thanksgiving Covid Dilemma"

Twelve hundred miles to the northwest, George Masters also decided to shrink the day’s festivities. He still plans to make his broccoli casserole; his daughter still plans to bring the mac and cheese. But the turkey will be half as big as the usual 20-pounder. And he has slimmed down the guest list, from 19 to six.

Although Masters and his family share a reluctance to embrace mandatory mask rules — “We all like Trump,” he said — the reality of the virus’s spread has become hard to ignore in North Dakota.

Since Oct. 1, the number of covid-19 deaths in the county where Minot sits has ballooned from 11 to 115 as of Tuesday. Masters knows two guys who have died of the disease — an Air Force buddy and a friend in town. The other day, his grandson and daughters came down with coronavirus-like symptoms.

“It’s starting to hit a little closer to home,” said Masters, 70, who runs a classic-car restoration shop. “A lot of people have passed away.”

On Thursday, Masters expects little, if any, talk of politics. Although his family supports Trump, they recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect. “Whatever the majority chose, that’s it,” he said. “That’s how it works and we just have to go with it.”

The gathering will be smaller than usual, but Masters said his family will still have a good time. He already knows what joke he’ll be telling:

“A guy goes to the doctor and asks, ‘When is this pandemic going to be over?’

And the doc says, ‘I don’t know — I’m a doctor, not a politician.’ ”