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Bloated numbers

A New York affliction.

According to The New York Times coronavirus report, as of Sunday, April 19, 2:48 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, there were 35,676 COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Of those deaths, 18,690 were in the New York metropolitan area.

That means that more than half (52 percent) of all deaths in America have occurred in the New York metropolitan area.

What makes this statistic particularly noteworthy is that the entire death toll for 41 of the other 47 states is 7,661. In other words, while New York has 52 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in America, 41 states put together have only 21 percent of the COVID-19 deaths. And all the 47 states other than New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have less than half (48 percent).

Now let us imagine that the reverse were true. Imagine that Georgia and North Carolina—two contiguous states that, like the New York metro area, have a combined total of 21 million people—had 18,690 COVID-19 deaths, while metro New York had 858 deaths (the number of deaths in North Carolina and Georgia combined).

Do you think the New York metro area would close its schools, stores, restaurants and small businesses? Would every citizen of the New York area, with the few exceptions of those engaged in absolutely necessary work, be locked in their homes for months? Would New Yorkers accept the decimation of their economic and social lives because North Carolina and Georgia (or, even more absurdly, Colorado, Montana or the rest of what most New Yorkers regard as “flyover” country) had 18,960 deaths, while they had a mere 858?

It is, of course, possible. But I suspect that anyone with an open mind assumes that New Yorkers would not put up with ruining their economic and social lives and putting tens of millions of people out of work because of coronavirus deaths in North Carolina and Georgia, let alone Montana and Idaho (and, for the record, I would have agreed with them).

Lest we forget, even the underwhelming non-NYC numbers are themselves grossly inflated:

The IHME model is considered the gold standard. In mid-March, without social distancing, they predicted 2.2 million American deaths. By early April they reduced their death projection to 100,000 to 240,000 assuming social distancing measures in place. Their April 17 update now projects 60,308 deaths, 3% of their original prediction.

What changed? Social distancing was in already in place when the death predictions dropped by a factor of four. For perspective, 61,000 Americans died in the 2017-18 flu season.

The CDC had its own models predicting gloom and doom. In mid-March they projected 160 million to 214 million infected and 200,000 to 1.7 million deaths. Did that leave President Trump any choice but to hit the off switch on the U.S. economy? What if the models were wrong?

Another factor influencing models is the death count from this coronavirus. Projected deaths determine projected need, as in the ventilators mentioned above. How accurate are the death counts?

Task force member Dr. Deborah Brix, on April 7, said the U.S. government is classifying the death of any patient who tested positive for coronavirus as a coronavirus death, regardless of any underlying health conditions that genuinely killed them. If one has a heart attack, and happens to test positive for the virus, he or she will be classed as a coronavirus death. Garbage in, garbage out.

Going further, New York City is including in their death counts, “people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it.” Data by presumption? Models based on presumption?

What the hell, why not? Julie Kelly brings it on home for us.

Tests show about 434,000 Americans have contracted the disease so far. Only a few states indicate COVID-19 symptomatic activity; most of the country now is quiet.

Would those facts frighten you into government-ordered submission? If the United States had a population of 300 million and 48 states, would the fact that 18,000 people—sadly, mostly elderly and already sick patients—succumbed to the virus over a period of nearly two months warrant an ongoing lockdown that is destroying the economy, overwhelming unemployment rolls and food bank lines, shutting down schools and colleges for five months, and bankrupting small businesses?

Would it justify increasingly despotic orders from power-grabbing politicians to stop Americans from going to the beach or hosting dinner parties in their own homes let alone canceling graduation ceremonies and weddings and funerals?

Of course, it would pose a public health concern; strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus, particularly among the most susceptible, would be necessary. Plans to prevent a bigger outbreak later in the year would be appropriate.

The coronavirus crisis in the United States is largely a New York City crisis. One reason why many governors are afraid to fully reopen is over the fear that virus-carrying New Yorkers will flee to their largely unimpacted states.

Happy beachgoers in northern Florida are not a threat; subway commuters in New York City are. The fact that there is outrage over the former and not the latter speaks volumes about the politicization of this travesty while we remain under house arrest for the foreseeable future.

Wall it off. Should Air Force One ever go down inside…well, hey, we can always call in Snake Plissken.

10 thoughts on “Bloated numbers

  1. I’ve said from the very beginning we should have practiced measures that have been proven to work, real quarantine for the NY area, meaning they were not allowed out to infect the rest. But otherwise let the rest of us go to work and play. The at risk population needed to shelter as best they could and the rest of us should help them do that.

    No way we should have destroyed the country economically for this. I always ask the questions – Why didn’t we do this in the past for epidemics? What are we going to do next year for the next one?

    And for the record, were the situation reversed, NY environs would not only not shut down, they would be laughing.

  2. The NYC resident response has been normal and predictable, therefore arrogant and condescending. They’ve always thought themselves better than everyone else, so different (or no) rules will be applied to them.

    I know some fine people who live in NYC, but it weren’t for them, I’d be happy to build a wall around, put a hose over top, turn on the water and leave it on until water starts to slop over to the outside.

  3. NYC was highlighted as a the Base Case for another reason as well.
    It was used to justify every shutdown. The mantra was “everywhere will look like NYC eventually”. Well, that was a suspect premise all along and is looking even worse now.
    Some people on the right screamed “Take My Liberty, Just Don’t Give Me Death!”
    The Anti-Patrick Henry. That was just enough to get a consensus formed for the shutdowns regardless of how vocal the opposition was. Sit down and shut up, we were told.

    1. This, kennycan. Completely and totally this. The media spin was that New York city was getting hit first due to airports, international travel, etc., but that within a few weeks everywhere in the country would be just as bad or worse. That projection was used to justify shutting down the entire country. It has become evident that the projections were (surprise!) total garbage in/garbage out, but no correction in policy can even be discussed without getting called a heartless bastard who wants everyone’s grandma and grandpa to DIE!!!!!!!!.

      Add to that the rapidly shifting goal posts of “flattening the curve.” I am so old I recall the stated purpose being to prevent the hospital ICU’s from being overwhelmed. Once it became obvious that was not happening outside of a few of the very worst hot spots like NYC, mission creep magically took place and the new goal was to prevent all new infections; see Dr. Fauci and his statements about continuing the lockdowns until there is not a single new case recorded. That will happen around the fifth of never, so infinite lockdown. And again anyone who objects is accused of wanting people to DIE!!!!!!!!

      I just do not understand why so many people have lost their minds over this whole thing. I sort of understand the leftists and never Trumpers — they are using this crisis as their latest attempt to overthrow the Bad Orange Man, everything else having failed and the Dem primary circus having resulted in Joe Biden (LOLOLOLOLOL) being their (for now) apparent candidate. They are desperate in their multi-year madness and consider wrecking the economy and tens of millions of Americans’ lives as a price well worth paying. (See Maher’s line some months back about a recession being “worth it” to get rid of Trump and his wildly cheering audience.)

      But what is going on with the more rightward or libertarian leaning folks who have gone nuts about the corona virus? I just do not get it.

      1. “I just do not get it.”

        Nor I, Haz. But I see them for who they are now, they were not who I thought they were.

      2. I can’t answer that question.
        A month ago I was trying to have civil discussions about things and the pushback became more strident. I can only take so much before it pisses me off.
        The tell for me was when the TrumpCure was announced by Trump on Mar 19 to be highly effective. (I like calling it the TrumpCure to annoy the Leftists. It had been known to be working for 2 weeks before that). First Fauci and others began a campaign that it had side effects and we needed long term tests. Then it was that hoax/murder fish tank cleaner story. I knew all along it was a mix of the malarial+antibiotic+zinc, but then the “it’s not effective without zinc and we may run out of zinc” stories hit.
        Try to do a search on it today and see if you get any stories past late March.
        It’s been memory holed. I think they hope we forget there is a “cure”. I write that because I realize it does not directly “cure” you, it allows you to keep your immune system strong enough to fight off the virus. Which is exactly what we do for a cold.
        As a matter of fact I remember (IIRC perhaps it was the blogger from Minneapolis, can’t remember his name) that taking Zinc supplements is good for fighting off and even preventing common colds. I was taking a Vitamin C-Zinc supplement for a while. I can’t remember why I stopped though.
        Anyways, if saving lives was the goal it seemed obvious that these roadblocks were the opposite tactic.

        1. I agree with you that the reponse to Trump suggesting hydroxychloroquine had potential to help people was very strange. The howling about how it would supposedly kill people (when large numbers of people have taken it for decades for malaria, lupus, etc. without mass death) was just ridiculous. “Side effects!” we were told. Really? Have none of these people read the small print on the inserts in a bottle of aspirin or Tylenol, or literally any prescription medication? Read out of context it would frighten anyone — the stuff reads like dropping a single tablet in a city water supply would kill millions. And then the media and the fish tank cleaner story, as if Trump was suggesting people grab any chemical with “chloroquine” in the name and start gobbling it down, rather than having doctors evaluate their patients and writing prescriptions for those where it might be appropriate.

          It really does seem like certain factions WANT a huge number of dead Americans, doesn’t it?

  4. Latest numbers from NC 10.5 Million people.
    Almost 7000 cases but 427 currently hospitalized and 213 deaths.
    Almost 1900 cases in the Congregate Living Category, as well as 96 deaths.
    There have been 65 Outbreaks in Congregate Living Facilities.
    My well wishes to Deanz at DP who is in a Senior Home and one Staff had tested positive. Please God watch over him, he’s a good one.

    1. There definitely seem to be clusters of severe cases and deaths in assisted living facilities for the elderly. Very sad to see, although not unexpected. Respiratory infections leading to pneumonia-style symptoms tend to be a severe hazard for the elderly, partly from age and partly due to existing conditions. These kinds of facilities are where prevention efforts should be focused, not on chasing down lone surfers dozens of yards offshore by themselves and similar people.

      Best of luck to deanz, and all others living in such facilities. I worry about my 89 year old uncle in a care home near Houston.

    2. Dare county (NC Outer Banks) released the revised plan today. They shut the county down to all outsiders including non resident property owners about a month ago. The new plan allows non resident property owners to start coming in in stages. First letter of last name determines. May 4th for those with A – something, then May 6th for the next group and then May 8th for my group (S – Z). Shelter in place has been moved up to May 22 and there is no date for visitors.

      So now the real bleeding starts for homeowners that rent their houses out in the summer months. May is the real start of the season. Looks like all those rent $$$ will be returned. June is a bigger month. If they go into June then you can kiss all the islanders good bye. They will have no income. There will be no 10% tax on rentals (try 20K homes every week). Since our property will be worthless, I suspect most of us will be getting our property taxes lowered.

      This is just one little island not heavily populated. Imagine this tragedy up and down the coast of NC and other states.

      This as a result of 213 deaths in NC? No, it’s because of the deaths in the NYC area. Makes sense doesn’t it…

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