Drowning in Coronavirus, Part 90

By September 15, 2020 Commentary

I am seeing numerous references to cases in the Dakotas “skyrocketing” and the Upper Midwest being the new hotspot.  The NYTimes is of course a cheerleader for this nonsense.  What a load of crap.  Go to the Covid Tracking Project.  Look at Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.  Some uptick in cases, but partly this reflects extremely low testing and testing reports over the Labor Day period and a rebound in reported tests.  Like Minnesota, most states only give us the data as of the date they received it, not the day the test occurred on.  So of course, nobody is reporting many tests, or doing many, around holiday weekends.  Then you get the dump of tests toward the middle and end of the next week and you get a real surge in testing from schools, businesses, etc.  If you normalize testing and cases, nothing to be concerned about.  Especially if you look at deaths.  Oh my God, look at that horrendous jump in deaths in South Dakota, they may have had a day with two.  This is just the latest pathetic panic attempt from the Chicken Littles of the world.

Minnesota coronavirus daily briefing, the usual, lot of school nonsense.  One basic question that should be asked:  how come Sweden, Denmark and other countries can have in-person school, without masks and distancing, and we can’t even do the in-person stuff.  I want to hear the “walzing” around that question.  In response to another excellent question on what happened to bend the curve and what are we doing now; some meandering blither which ended up with we are very concerned about a sustained level of (non-existent) cases.  Otherwise softball questions which only serve to further the Department’s messaging.

Common sense and regard for what the Constitution actually says triumphed today as a federal judge struck down the Governor’s coronavirus orders in Pennsylvania.  You should read the opinion, it will restore your belief in democracy, not autocracy.  (Pa. Opinion)

Here is a video well worth watching.  This gentleman has been tweeting frequently with excellent data and charts and in this video he explains basically that, well, virus gonna virus.  (FE Video)   Thanks to Scott Johnson for sending me the link.

I don’t report on them all but there continue to be mask studies that through modeling purport to show benefit from mask mandates or mask wearing.  These are garbage studies by and large, some don’t even use data but just make stuff up.  All assume that masks stop transmission,  so of course the models tell them that masks stopped transmission.  This one is a little better and the authors display some humility.  (Medrxiv Paper)   It attempts to use actual mask-wearing rather than presence of mask mandates.  The use was derived from weekly surveys of the population in various countries.  Self-reported data is not the strongest, and most surveys have randomness issues, but it may be the best that can be used for now.  They attempted to identify confounding by other mitigation actions, and admit that this is extremely complex.

They say that “widespread” mask wearing in a country is associated with a 7% decline in daily case growth rates, not the absolute number of cases.  The math is tricky here because then they say this equates to a 88.5% drop over 30 days in the case growth rate “compared to zero mask wearing, all else held equal”.  Would somebody tell me where, other than countries like Sweden, Denmark and others where people actually know how to read research, mask wearing is non-existent.  By the way, Sweden has a zero case growth rate.  And of course, all else is never held equal.  So kind of a bogus comparison.  And, as usual, using cases as your measure is worthless, variation in testing strategy, definition of a positive test result that counts as a case, and other factors make comparisons across countries pretty useless for serious research.

As I said, at least they are honest, here is what they said “due to the confounding variables and the variations in the type of mask and its usage, randomized control trials of mask usage in populations are needed to determine the true effect of mask–wearing on mitigating the transmission of infectious respiratory diseases.”   And, in the caveats we find this “This study has several limitations. First, countries enacted multiple NPIs simultaneously. This precludes us from identifying the effectiveness of NPIs separately.”  So, you are telling us that masks reduce cases, but you are saying that your study method can’t actually tell the separate effect of masks.  They get points for honesty, but not for trying to tell us that their study actually shows lower cases from more mask use.

Finally, another interesting study on building a model using more heterogeneity in population susceptibility and infectiousness.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Gomes et al started this line of work in regard to CV-19 and have been remarkably accurate.  Other refinements, including by Nic Lewis, have verified the value of this approach.  As have the earlier papers, this one finds that taking such variability into account leads to far lower prevalence rates needed to substantially slow transmission.  They also suggest that the greater the variability in these key factors, the lower the prevalence needs to be to mute transmission.


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