Days of Change

The Art of Noise | October 15, 2020

This is a graph of COVID-19 cases and deaths. That nearly flat orange line is deaths, but the blue line of cases looks like a lot of statistical noise. If you think it looks like a series of spikes, you see my point. When the media talks about a one day spike, they are using what is essentially using statistical noise to justify their argument that COVID is “out of control.” In reality, the daily number of cases peaked 3 months ago.

Here’s the same data in a different format. In this case, the cumulative number is used (which smooths out the noise) and two different axes are plotted, so that the “death curve” isn’t a flat line. What’s interesting here is that the cases line overtakes the deaths line in August. This means that while the number of cases is increasing at a (slightly) higher rate, the number of deaths is not. Either there is more testing (there is) or the treatment protocols are better (they are) or both.

This is how much better treatment is getting. I did some back of the envelope guesses of how long it takes from diagnosis to death for COVID-19 and used 2 months as the worst case scenario. Looking at the chart above, the number of days may not be that critical. Since the last “spike” in August, the percentage of cases with deadly outcomes has dropped precipitously. Again, this could be due to new cases found through testing. However, since approximately 10% of Americans are believed to have or had COVID-19 and the total number of cases accounts for only 2%, the case fatality rate of about 1.5% could be less than 0.3% in reality, making it as severe as a flu virus without an effective vaccine.

Lockdowns are ineffective because they rely on fear to keep the population in line. When they go on long enough, and in this case, are trying to stop a minor illness, people will resist. Since one super spreader can undo all the lockdowns put in place for weeks, the media has turned to shame as a tool, which is ineffective because the people defying masks don’t blindly follow the dictates of the media. Protecting the vulnerable and not sending COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes seems to be the key to fighting the disease.


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