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April 6 2020: The Latest Information

April 6 2020: It was wonderful to take a couple of days away from looking at the news. I spent the weekend reading and watching wrestling, enjoying some sort of peace. Unfortunately, the world keeps turning. So here I am again.

The madness is such that it’s hard to tell satire from reality. That’s why a lot of people took a (false) report of what Pat Robertson said was responsible for COVID-19 at face value. It’s the most Pat Robertson things to say, ever, and entirely credible that he’d say it given the other nonsense he’s spewed over the years.

Break Out the Tin Foil Hats

Among other nonsense being spread by those lacking critical thinking skills are the conspiracy theories about 5G communications and the coronavirus. Correlation isn’t causation. But at least 20 cell towers in the UK have been set on fire as this misinformation spreads around social media. The two sure feel connected.

There are actually two separate 5G theories. The first is that 5G signals weaken your immune system, and that enables the coronavirus to spread more easily and have deadlier effects. Which would be credible if people were coming down with all manner of other illnesses, and dying from things that are usually fairly innocuous. If the immunocompromised were dropping at an alarming rate and huge swaths of the population were succumbing to the common cold, they might have a case. That’s not what’s happening.

A moderately unhinged variation of the theory is that there is no virus. All of these symptoms are the result of exposure to 5G itself. Which, again, is demonstrably false. We know where the outbreaks have been. We know where 5G has been rolled out. The two maps don’t align.

This isn’t the only theory going around that COVID-19 doesn’t exist. I’ve seen it as an explanation why there are no tests. Except there are tests. There was just a shortage of them and they continue to be poorly administered or under-utilized in some places. There’s one where the fake pandemic is an excuse to inject us all with microchips under the guise of vaccinating people. Which, you know, would be a great theory if there was a vaccine. And governments were requiring people to take it. Sigh.

It’s Not Malaria

The biggest bit of hokum, though, comes directly from Donald Trump. Hydrochloroquine is being stockpiled on his orders. I don’t want to get into the whole “manufacturer Novartis paid Michael Cohen for access to Trump” bit. All I care about is that he’s touting it as a miracle cure, repeatedly saying “what do you have to lose?” You mean, aside from your life? The American Medical Association’s official response can be summed up in one sentence: “We strongly oppose these actions”.

All of That Said…

The rate of deaths in the United States is slowing down. As of this writing it’s doubling every 5 days. At one point, it was doubling ever 2 to 3. At one point I’d crunched the numbers and predicted 24,000 deaths in the US by Easter. Then things got worse, and the math told me 40,000. Right now it looks like it’s going to be a bit over 20,000, which is still less than my original calculations. That’s good.

Unfortunately, with people getting stir crazy, Trump still talking about allowing churches to open for Easter, and people refusing to stay home for any number of reasons, I would not be surprised to see a new surge in two or three weeks.

4 replies on “April 6 2020: The Latest Information”

something that has been bother me for days is the maths of the infection rates, If the daily rate of infection is relatively constant or worse – increasing at a small amount, the rate of doubling would have to slow. Example : I start with 5000 and add 2000 a day – initially the doubling rate would be 2.5 days then 5 days then 10 days. If the number uf daily new cases is increasing by 100 cases a day these rates get smaller. As the number of existing cases increases the time to double will increase even if the daily rate of new cases doesn’t. The exponential growth reports may be a less than accurate model. It’s good that the rates of new cases are falling in places, but please god, let’s not get too complacent.

1. The data I’m using, from Oxford, is tracking deaths rather than infections. Due to the lack of testing this was presumed to be more accurate. It’s easier to verify who died. There are problems with this, though, as some countries are attributing the deaths to other causes (pneumonia, cardio-pulmonary issues) rather than COVID-19 to downplay the impact.

2. Doubling is calculated from the total, not the daily. So you start with 5000, as in your example, and then see how long it takes to get to 10,000. From there, how long does it take to get to 20,000? This is why China is currently sitting at 50 days.

https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus#growth-country-by-country-view

If the daily rate of deaths remains constant, as the total increases the time to double the total will increase. If 2,000 die every day for a month, as the month goes on the time to double will increase. Although, I would not necessarily call this an improvement. The US is at about 10,000 dead. If the daily death toll is a constant 2, 000 current time to double that total would be 5 days. In 5 days the total would be 20,000 and the time to double that would be 10 days. So an increase in the days to double the total is not necessarily an improvement in the daily rate of deaths

At that point the bell curve is flattening. It’s improvement insofar as the spread isn’t increasing. It’s still a lot of illness and death, but leveling off is the first step toward decreasing.

It’s horrible, put against the capacity of the healthcare system. If the hospitals can deal with a maximum of X patients per day, then keeping the spread below X means those patients are getting treatment and their odds for survival increases. When the numbers are larger than X, the number greater than X are not getting treatment and are more likely to die. Even though a constant number is horrible, it’s easier to wrangle the situation from there and bring it down than to deal with a constant increase.

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