Goal posts on skids

The anxiety level in my county has jumped significantly, though I'm still not quite able to see a big change in objective danger.  Two articles today, one in Spectator and one by Avik Roy, put their finger on my frustration in reading about 20 headlines a day on the uptick in cases in June (say, what happened in June?), which is that reports focus almost exclusively on new cases.  Of course there are going to be more new reported cases if we test a lot more.  What we need to know is, are we getting more hospitalizations?  In particular, are we getting more serious hospitalizations, more ICU impact, enough hospital and ICU impact to overwhelm our medical facilities?  Ultimately, more deaths? Not only do the press reports avoid these issues, preferring to blame Republican governors for forcing people at gunpoint to crowd up against each other in bars and churches, but I'm finding it harder and harder to find good data anywhere on the burden on hospital resources.  Texas hospitalization rates are up, but why wouldn't they be, given that we made people delay elective procedures for several months?  A good number of all the people who show up for knee surgery will also test positive for COVID.  Is that what they're counting?  It's impossible to tell from any of the data sources I've been able to find.

The Spectator article does try:
There are no crises in hospital capacity anywhere in the country. Nursing homes, meat-packing plants, and prisons remain the main sources of new infections. Half the states are seeing cases decline or hold steady. Case counts are affected by more testing; the positive infection rate captured by testing is declining. The current caseload is younger, which is a good thing. The more people who have been infected and who recover, the more herd immunity is created.
Mind you. I'm not 100% persuaded this is a fair picture overall. For one thing, deaths lag case reports--but deaths lag serious hospitalizations a lot less, so I'd rather hear about the latter. Also, overall U.S. rates may obscure an impending problem in a particular area, such as the state that's nearest and dearest to me.

Still, for the last several months, there's been a very weird inability to keep our eyes on the original ball: hunkering down while the virus works its way through the population--something we never seriously imagined we could prevent--while protecting the people at highest risk and avoiding high-tech medical service crunches of the sort that initially terrified us in reports from Italy.

Somewhere along the way, people seem to have gotten the idea, first, that we could make the virus go poof! if we locked down long enough, and second, that we can really lock the economy down indefinitely.


Anonymous said...

One thing about May-June-July is that in some parts of the US, this is "trauma season." Car accidents, farm accidents, that sort of thing start peaking. When I flew medivac, we always got more trauma transport calls this time of year, and those went to ICUs. Add in shootings and the like (not so seasonal here in TX as in IL and other northern climes), the usual ICU load, and people who wouldn't have been in the ICU if they'd gotten treated back in March-April, and I suspect there's the answer. SARS2 isn't the problem so much as the lack of slack capacity in ICU beds. For which the Feds get some credit, but that's another story.

If you start looking at SARS2 numbers in the ICU, they are still relatively low.


Grim said...

Johns Hopkins has county level data on ICU resources. Check their site.

E Hines said...

I'm more interested in mortality rates than I am in hospitalization rates. It's certainly true that being sick enough to be hospitalized is deucedly inconvenient, and expensive, but if you don't die, you get released.

And the mortality rate from this Wuhan Virus doofer seems to be quite low and lowering, if new data get corroborated.

This from the WSJ )https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-25-2020-11593070962?mod=hp_lead_pos2 ) suggests over 20 million of us Americans may have had a Wuhan Virus infection. The 20M is an estimate, but it's plausibly derived. It's also early days, so the number is likely to vary, widely, as further data come in.

Combine that with Johns Hopkins' CSSE data (https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6 , a couple days old now, but not importantly aged) that says 122,000 Americans have died from the virus (here, I'm ignoring the looseness of the number, since various State and local jurisdictions claim anyone with a Wuhan Virus infection died from that, regardless of an actual cause of death, and other such jurisdictions make no breakout of the underlying data at all).

Taking both numbers, arguendo, as reasonably valid, that works out to a mortality rate from the virus of 0.6%. Skewing that as heavily to the geezer cohort as other data strongly suggest, my mortality rate remains quite low.

One more odds improver: we know a whole lot more now about how to treat the infection than we did a couple of months ago. Most of the treatment improvements center on maintenance so the body can get it figured out naturally--which is how we treat a lot of diseases already--but mortality rates given hospitalization are falling toward the floor like loose bed pans.

Frankly, I like the odds.

Open up. Grunt through the sniffles or the hospitalization. Do the useful social distancing and mask-wearing where necessary, so as to lower the odds still further, but there's no need to keep hiding under the bed. Let the Progressive-Democrats do that.

Eric Hines

ymarsakar said...

Looka like that Second Wave is starting up. Let's see what they are going to push now. Cabal, you got another Doomsday button you want to show us?

Show me.

ymarsakar said...

while protecting the people at highest risk

I heard Ami Demoncrat governors were intentionally murdering people at highest risk.

Do people also think that is not treason, that it is just a version of political theater? No victims1