Do the COVIDiots even understand actuarial statistics?


Because I find this rather convincing that COVID-19 is much more than “just a flu”.

The Minnesota numbers are in, and they don’t look good.

Minnesota suffered more than 50,000 deaths in a year for the first time in recorded state history in 2020, mostly because of COVID-19 but also due to rising drug abuse and worsening racial health disparities.

A 15% increase in mortality from 2019 to 2020 demonstrates that the pandemic actually caused more deaths in Minnesota and wasn’t just a substitute cause for people who were likely to die anyway.

Hey, can we simplify that and just call all the deaths due to the neglected pandemic response, the erosion of our social safety net, and racism the Republican death toll?

Comments

  1. whheydt says

    The US as a whole is closing in on the low end of the estimated death toll (500K to 850K) from the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Granted, we have a much larger population base, so the rate is a good deal less, but we also have far better medical capabilities and ought to have been able to do a lot better than we have.

    When articles site the death toll in various states, I really wish they would also supply a per captia figure so the comparisons would have more meaning than just the raw number. Sure, California has huge numbers of cases and deaths, but we’ve also got a population of about 40 million.

  2. PaulBC says

    It’s safe to say they do not, since many people don’t understand actuarial statistics, including those who nevertheless show common sense in the face of a pandemic.

    COVIDiots are more likely to come up with some complicated argument for explaining excess deaths to fit their belief that its “just the flu.” The tobacco industry spent decades developing a playbook for exactly this kind of thing.

  3. Tethys says

    Minnesota has a population of 5.6 million.

    On December 14th the covid death toll was 4,462. As of today the death toll is 6,278.

    Terrible statistics, no matter how you calculate it.

  4. PaulBC says

    I didn’t realize it is literally called the Tobacco industry playbook.

    Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public.

    It took decades to persuade people of the evidence before them, even though they were literally watching smokers they knew die of lung cancer and emphysema.

    For COVID-19, the timeline was heavily compressed, and it wasn’t all idiots. The “reopen” movement was funded and backed by attorneys just like the tobacco lobby did. The motives varied. I suspect some was just to make sure that Democratic governors failed (like Gavin Newsom) and could be blamed for the deaths under their watch. Some may have been driven by a simple profit motive, though it seems shortsighted to me.

  5. Tethys says

    The covid deaths are statistically very bad, but the deaths of despair portion of that graph is disgraceful.

    If you are losing 200 to 300 people every week to ‘despair’ and 600 to all other causes except covid, how is that loss of life not considered another type of pandemic?
    By the numbers, our society clearly needs to address mental health, and self- medicating, it is even more deadly than the corona virus.

  6. PaulBC says

    Tethys@5 I would make a distinction between chronic and acute conditions. I try with limited success to make this argument on a political level all the time, so I’ll understand if you don’t buy it. Of course, it’s disgraceful. I don’t think we’ve fixed the oxycontin epidemic either, and life expectancy in the US is going down in certain demographics. Still, the big news right now is the pandemic and the other problems are no excuse for ignoring it.

  7. chrislawson says

    Most COVID deniers are on the same track as old school creationists. It is critical to their continuing self-identity that they don’t understand.

  8. Tethys says

    @Paul

    I would have to dig further into the numbers to see what percentage is due to alcohol and drug overdose, and which are suicides.
    Lumping them all into one category is not useful for determining acute or chronic deaths due to drug use, vs why are so many people killing themselves due to despair?

  9. christoph says

    I don’t understand what the phrase “deaths of despair” means. Seems it should be obvious, but it’s not.

  10. PaulBC says

    Tethys@8 Maybe I was unclear. The light salmon band (deaths of despair) seems to have the same width over the whole chart. So whatever it is, yes it’s terrible, but we were living with it before the pandemic. If someone were to fix this problem independent of the pandemic, then obviously that would be worthwhile in itself. But my instinct is to focus on the current emergency, not a condition that predated it. (This instinct may not be completely rational I admit, though in some cases the pre-existence of a problem could be an indication of its intractability.)

  11. PaulBC says

    chrislawson@7 Right, the good Lord will protect us from a virus, but we need guns to protect us from the you-know-who.

  12. raven says

    The Covid-19 virus death toll is also a huge undercount.
    We all ready know that.
    I’ve seen it first hand more than once.

    .1. My friend caught Covid-19 at her aerobics class for old people in March. The class was old ladies, youngest mid 60’s, oldest mid 90’s. Most of them got it, as a super spreader event.
    Here it is 10 months later.
    She is a long hauler.
    Half the class is now dead!!!
    None of them are counted as Covid-19 deaths but some of them certainly are.

    .2. Health carer worker gets Covid-19 in March. On a ventilator, survives, lung damage.
    A few months ago, his heart almost stopped.
    Heart damage caused a need for a pacemaker.
    He isn’t counted as a Covid-19 death either.
    Well, he is still alive. But it was a close call and I’m sure other people didn’t make it to the hospital.

    A lot of the organ damage; heart, brain, liver, kidney, lung, diabetes isn’t going to show up right away in obvious symptoms.
    In fact, it might not show up for many decades.
    It is still going to shorten your life span.

  13. consciousness razor says

    christoph, it’s defined in the small print below the chart. They “include drug or alcohol overdoses, alcohol-related diseases, and suicide.” Possibly, some other less-common causes of death are also included (but not mentioned explicitly).

  14. raven says

    Do the COVIDiots even understand actuarial statistics?

    No but it is worse than that.
    Some of these Covid-19 virus deniers, catch the virus and die.
    While they are dying, they are still claiming the virus doesn’t exist.
    Reality doesn’t care what you believe.

    Many COVID-19 patients insist ‘it’s not real’ until they die …globalnews.ca › coronavirus-denier-deaths-nurse-hoax

    Nov 17, 2020 — A South Dakota nurse says she’s seen many patients die of COVID-19 while clinging to conspiracy theories about the virus.

    I’ve seen this movie before.
    I used to have to deal with HIV deniers who denied that HIV existed and caused AIDS.
    There aren’t very many of them any more.
    The ones who were HIV+ all died…of AIDS.

  15. PaulBC says

    One of the arguments offered against quarantine measures is that it would exacerbate depression and potentially lead to suicide. While, I’m sure it did in some cases, if that “deaths of despair” band means what I would assume, there is no obvious change to correlate with any attempts at controlling the pandemic. It looks pretty constant to me.

  16. Tethys says

    From the linked article.

    A 15% increase in mortality from 2019 to 2020 demonstrates that the pandemic actually caused more deaths in Minnesota and wasn’t just a substitute cause for people who were likely to die anyway.

    “COVID hasn’t just replaced the usual causes of mortality,” said Kris Ehresmann, state infectious disease director.

    The increase of at least 6,483 deaths from 2019 to 2020 far exceeded the roughly 875 that Minnesota expected based on aging and disease trends.

    The death rate due to economic disparity is especially appalling. I’m sure having white supremacists spend a couple days terrorizing the urban core and burning things down did not do anything good for the health of all residents.

  17. consciousness razor says

    While, I’m sure it did in some cases, if that “deaths of despair” band means what I would assume, there is no obvious change to correlate with any attempts at controlling the pandemic. It looks pretty constant to me.

    Leaving out the dark red bands for covid and looking at the rest, it’s pretty consistently above the previous 3-year average, beginning in March. Comparing months within that year would not tell you anything about what it had been like in previous years.

  18. Tethys says

    Further statistics from the link.

    Drug overdoses, alcohol poisonings and suicides — collectively known as “deaths of despair” — fueled 11% of this excess in 2020, according to a Star Tribune analysis of almost all death certificates for the year. Overdoses were the primary driver of this increase, while the number of suicides remained unchanged.

    The pandemic accounted for 86% of the excess deaths, cutting many lives unexpectedly short. Minnesota so far has recorded 50,313 death certificates for 2020.

  19. PaulBC says

    @17 @18 OK, never mind. It was a pretty bad year all around. It would be useful to see the same chart taken back at least a year though.

  20. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC, they’ve been on the rise for a long time anyway. I can’t tell you about Minnesota specifically, but see these Senate reports here and here, which show a large upswing since about the year 2000. There was also a lot of growth before that, since the low point in the mid-1940s, but not so extreme as in the last twenty years.

  21. PaulBC says

    CR@21 Thanks. I was somewhat aware of this, but I never saw a chart that illustrated it so dramatically.

  22. chris61 says

    I’d like to blame all those excess deaths on the Republicans but I don’t really think I can. After all public health is the primary responsibility of the states and neither your state (nor mine for that matter) have had a Republican governor in years. Moreover, most of those excess deaths (at least the covid ones) are coming from largely urban counties with largely Democratic county legislatures. I know my governor and county legislature could have done a better job and I suspect that’s true of your state and most others (red or blue) as well.

  23. says

    @14

    No but it is worse than that.
    Some of these Covid-19 virus deniers, catch the virus and die.
    While they are dying, they are still claiming the virus doesn’t exist.
    Reality doesn’t care what you believe.

    I think this Cyanide & Happiness comic is appropriate here:
    https://explosm.net/comics/4460/

    The Covid-19 deniers have faith that COVID-19 is a hoax, the QAnoners have faith that Donald Trump is still president. The Young Earth Creationists have faith that earth is under 10,000 years old.

    And the point of faith, any faith, is that you believe it in spite of all evidence. If you can lose your faith in something due to rational deductions from observing real evidence, you never had any faith to begin with. And that’s why the True Believers in COVID being a hoax continue to believe it’s a hoax even as they die from COVID.

  24. raven says

    chris61 lying as usual.

    I’d like to blame all those excess deaths on the Republicans but I don’t really think I can.

    That is because you are pathological liar.
    From a recent paper noted below.
    .1. Degree of urbanization and population density are two of the few variables that are not correlated with death rates. The exact opposite of what the troll just claimed.
    .2. Red states have higher death rates than Blue states!!!
    “Adjusting for these factors, states with Democrats as the party in power have lower case rates than Republican-led states.”

    Why do per capita COVID-19 Case Rates Differ Between U.S. States?
    Lloyd Chambless
    doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020
    Results All explanatory variables were at least marginally statistically significantly associated with case rate in univariate regression analysis, except for population density and urbanization.

    Conclusions U.S. state-specific demographic and socio-economic variables are strongly associated with the states’ COVID-19 case rates, so must be considered in analysis of variation in case rates between the states.
    Adjusting for these factors, states with Democrats as the party in power have lower case rates than Republican-led states.

  25. raven says

    Every sentence chris61 wrote is just a lie.
    This is a troll that always lives in a fact free, reality free world.

    chris the dumb troll:

    After all public health is the primary responsibility of the states ..

    That isn’t the least bit true.
    The Federal government has a huge responsibility for public health and it has been this way for at least a century. This is the CDC, the cabinet level department of Department of Health and Human Services., FDA, NIH, etc.. Collectively the Federal public health budgets are in the tens of billions of dollars. The CDC alone is 11 billion USD.
    What in the hell do you think the word “health” in the Federal Department of Health and Human Services even means?

    Where the Trump Disaster went wrong was in doing nothing and pushing the responsibility down to the states. The states don’t have the money and expertise of the Federals so they just floundered. In a lot of cases they pushed the responsibility down to the counties and cities who have even less resources.
    Some of the Red states didn’t even try, they just gave up at the start.
    And that is why we have a raging pandemic and 430,000 dead Americans.

    PS Chris61, you are really a failed, disgusting human being. A net negative for the world.
    If you can’t tell the truth, at least try to be amusing.
    What is your favorite conspiracy theory?
    We know you have many. Talk about Qanon, fundie xianity, Trumpism, creationism, white racism, got to be something way out there more interesting than lying about public health.

  26. Tethys says

    Here are stats for the various states near Minnesota. Both North and South Dakota are red states, and not coincidentally have the worst death rates in the world.

    SD 201 deaths per 100,000
    pop. 884,659

    ND 190
    Pop. 762,062
    MI 156
    Pop. 10 million
    IA 156
    Pop. 3.2 mil
    WI 111
    Pop. 5.8 mil
    MN 111
    Pop. 5.6 mil
    Wisconsin is a still a bit purple but clearly has better health care than all the other red states.

    https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/us-coronavirus-deaths-by-state-july-1.html

  27. whheydt says

    Re: Tethys @ #27…
    Thanks for the link. If I’m reading it right, that is data as of 1 July 2020. Be nice to something…a bit more up to date.

  28. PaulBC says

    I’ve been disappointed with California, but on cases per million it’s pretty close to the middle. It was doing better than that and I’m not sure what happened. Santa Clara County has also been disappointing. I would say we got off to a great start and looked ready to do contact tracing in May and I don’t know exactly what happened.

    One thing that did happen, though, were lawsuits pushing premature “reopening”. To the extent they were successful, and to the extent that they simply intimidated the state government to switch course, I count that as a big factor in things getting worse in the summer (and as far as I’m concerned there are lawyers with blood on their hands, and yes I mean Harmeet Dhillon, but she’s probably just the one I read about).

    In fairness, none of that explains why things took a sudden turn for the worse in Autumn. Maybe it was just fatigue? I would like to know. Cases are finally coming down but they’re still high. I just want mass vaccinations at this point.

  29. Tethys says

    I’m sure that age and population density are cofactors for the death rates in some states.

    North Dakota has a large aging population, and is underserved with medical facilities of any type. It is not uncommon to live several hours from the nearest emergency room.

  30. raven says

    Maybe it was just fatigue? I would like to know.

    It was a lot of things in California.
    In LA which really got hit hard, it was mostly due to poverty and overcrowded living conditions. In the Latino parts of LA, a lot of families are multi-generational and/or just crowded for one reason or another.
    So, when one person gets Covid-19 virus, the whole family gets it the next day.

    This was also why Northern Italy got hit so hard at the start.
    It’s all well and good to tell exposed and Covid-19 positive people to quarantine, but where do you go when you are low income for two weeks?

    Why L.A. COVID-19 cases have spread wildly – Los Angeles …www.latimes.com › california › story › why-covid-19-c…

    Dec 28, 2020 — L.A. was uniquely vulnerable to this COVID catastrophe. … that has led to more coronavirus transmission across the country hit here, too — and …
    combination of poverty and density that leads to a virus like this being able to spread … Eleven percent of L.A. homes are considered overcrowded, compared …

  31. blf says

    PaulBS@30, I myself have not read this Grauniad analysis in any detail, How California went from a leader in the Covid fight to a state in despair (29-December-2020), so I won’t try to excerpt it. After a brief skim, what happened seems to be a toxic mixture of multiple factors, perhaps summarised, albeit incompletely, as “its leaders’ inability to convincingly enact and enforce public health measures, its structural racism and inbuilt inequalities, its vicious political infighting and its inability to function as a ‘nation-state’, as Governor Gavin Newsom likes to call it, in isolation of of [sic (thanks Grauniad!)] a hostile federal government.”

  32. chris61 says

    @25 & 26 raven

    Adjusting for these factors, states with Democrats as the party in power have lower case rates than Republican-led states.

    Your point being … what? In terms of absolute numbers, New York and California, among the bluest of the blue states, lead the pack, accounting for ~ 20% of all deaths in the US. No conspiracy theories just data. And as a resident of New York state I’m saying that regardless of how much Trump and his sycophant Republicans screwed the pooch, Cuomo and my county legislature didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory either.

  33. kome says

    @36
    “In terms of absolute numbers” is not necessarily the best metric to use when comparing regions with radically varied populations. In fact, it might be downright disingenuous to focus on. It is very easy to find significant faults with how so many political leaders have responded to this crisis, at the federal and state levels (I am especially baffled at the recent actions by Newsom and Cuomo). But, taking everything into consideration, as flawed as Democratic leaders have been as a whole, they’ve still been better than Republican leaders as a whole. That’s not an indicator of how good a job Democrats have done, it’s an indictment of just how fucking bad Republican leadership has been for those they have power over.

  34. Tethys says

    Oh, the two blue states with the largest populations also have the most covid deaths? Really, imagine that!

    Now adjust it to deaths per 100,000 people, so you can see how red states like North Dakota have lost nearly twice as many lives per capita compared to blue New York.

  35. says

    I’ve seen somewhere the number of flu cases each week for last few years including 2020. In 2020 it is just flat, few percent of the results from previous years.

    Some of that is due to no one being interested in a flu so less tests are done to confirm it, but quite a lot of decrease is caused by masks and lockdowns.
    If we multiply number of covid cases by a factor calculated from ratio of 2019 and 2020 flu cases to get approximate number of CoVID cases without any safe measures, we would close to whole population IIRC

  36. chris61 says

    @36 kome
    So you agree that Democratic governors like Newsome and Cuomo have also been flawed.

    @48 Actually NYS is #4 in population, currently #1 in covid deaths. You’ll have to forgive me but living in NYS it is infection and deaths in New York and how New York state and my county act to reduce those numbers that is of particular concern to me.

  37. raven says

    Chris61 the troll lying some more

    In terms of absolute numbers, New York and California, among the bluest of the blue states, lead the pack, accounting for ~ 20% of all deaths in the US.

    Lying and then lying some more.
    Absolute numbers are useless in assessing how hard hit a state is or how well it protected its residents.
    The correct measurement is per capita cases and best, deaths. That is per 100,000.

    You never get tired of proving that you are a mindless waste of protoplasm.
    Try some Qanon or xianity or whatever your current delusion is. It would at least be worth a few laughs.

  38. Tethys says

    Texas is not a blue state, but it is an enormous area and has a death rate similar to California.
    From my link above

    New Jersey: 243 per 100,000 people
    Population: 8.9 million residents

    New York: 224
    Population: 19.4 million

    New Jersey is currently the winner of most deaths per 100,000, so Chris is wrong on every claim.

  39. PaulBC says

    New York and California, among the bluest of the blue states, lead the pack, accounting for ~ 20% of all deaths in the US

    I love the way you round up here.

    Taking all numbers from worldometers (for consistency, because I know there’s overall variability).

    CA+NY percentage of deaths is (42,467 + 44,279)/461,930 or about 18.78% (rounded up slightly)
    CA+NY percentage of population is (39,512,223+19,453,561)/332,156,223 or about 17.75% (rounded down slightly)

    So it is slightly disproportionate to population, but not way out of line. Now consider that New York took the brunt of the disaster last spring. Over half of those deaths had occurred by April 26, 2020 when the total passed 22,275. Early on, the mortality rate was much higher and they were dealing with equipment shortages. New York has done very well since then and even right now, the death rate is nowhere near its peak.

    California is a different situation and it took a major turn for the worse in December. We’re also pulling out of that.

    California and New York also have much higher global exposure than many other states, and it’s unsurprising that the pandemic would have hit them harder, at least at first. None of this is because “Democrats” did a worse job. When social distancing measures have been put in place and followed, they work. The SF Bay Area where I live has not been hit as hard as the Los Angeles area. I’m embarrassed to say that Santa Clara County has not done as well as it did at first, but cases per million are still below median among counties. San Francisco has done very well despite being densely populated.

    There are issues related to poverty and inability to social distance while staying employed that affect parts of the country differently. It is certainly not the case that Republican state governments have done a better job. In some cases, they’ve done a markedly worse job and encouraged the spread of the disease. However, they are more likely to be protected by factors like lower population density and less travel in and out.

  40. John Morales says

    Where I live, 6 people have died out of a population of over 5 million.

    (So excuse me while you USAnians argue about who is the least worst)

  41. raven says

    The correct data set if you are going to look at Red versus Blue states is obviously, the entire USA with 50 states.
    If you are picking one or a few data points, you are cherry picking your data!!!
    This is what a stupid person who is trying to lie would do.
    It is what the troll just did.

    So, anyway, we can ask the question, just how bad is California doing?
    From John Hopkins. Deaths per 100,000

    California 107
    Texas 131
    Alabama 167
    South Dakota 201
    Oregon 47
    Washington 58

    USA 139

    OK, California is doing better than the national average.
    Not great but not that bad either.
    Some of the Blue states have lower death rates.
    Some of the Red states have higher death rates

  42. chris61 says

    @41 raven
    LOL! Where is the lie? Do you deny that New York and California have more covid deaths than any of the other US states? Is the CDC lying?
    There is no correct measure. There are only different measures. If someone walked into a school with 500 kids and shot 50 of them, you would be arguing that was so much better than someone who walked into a school of 20 kids and only shot 5 of them.
    Because the “per capita” deaths would be less in the school of 500. I’m sure the grieving parents would take great comfort in that.

  43. Tethys says

    Being cooped up indoors during a northern winter is a known factor in the spread of illnesses.

  44. PaulBC says

    chris61@46

    Do you deny that New York and California have more covid deaths than any of the other US states?

    Do you deny that it is somewhere on the spectrum of asinine to mendacious to keep saying this as if it bears some relevance?

    What percentage of American cocker spaniels live in either California or New York? What percentage of dijon mustard is consumed in either California or New York? I don’t know, but I will go out on a limb and say it’s a lot more than in Wyoming. It’s also probably either above or below but not exactly identical to the percentage of US population. You have some kind of point?

  45. John Morales says

    chris61:

    There is no correct measure. There are only different measures.

    Indeed. And, since the question at hand is which state is less bad, a per capita measure is the best metric.

    If someone walked into a school with 500 kids and shot 50 of them, you would be arguing that was so much better than someone who walked into a school of 20 kids and only shot 5 of them.

    You really are confused.
    50 out of 500 is 10% fatalities.
    5 out of 20 is 25% fatalities.

    (I mean, would you send your child to a school where fatalities are 25%, or to a school where fatalities were 10%? Be honest, now)

  46. chris61 says

    @43 paulBC
    I did not say that Democrats did a ‘worse’ job than Republicans. I didn’t say it because I don’t think it. What I said is that New York State (and possibly California as well but I don’t know as much about California’s response as I do about New York’s) – that New York State did not do as good a job as it should have. And that therefore New York state is responsible for at least some of the covid deaths in New York State.

  47. chris61 says

    @49 John Morales
    I think you are confused. The question wasn’t which state was less bad. It was whether Trump and the Republicans could be held accountable for all the covid deaths.

    And the question isn’t where you would send your child but would you presume to tell the parents of the 50 dead kids that they were ‘lucky’ that the per capita death rate in their school was so much less than that of the other school?

  48. John Morales says

    chris61 @50, indeed.

    However, IMO, it’s the connotations of what you claimed and how you claimed it to which people take umbrage.

    (Your silly claim @46 didn’t help you any, either)

  49. PaulBC says

    @50 Well, duh. Virtually no government agency has done as good a job as it should have. It is also a fact that government policies were intentionally hamstrung, not just by “COVIDiots” but by powerful groups with money, lawyers, and an agenda.

    Harmeet Dhillon, last heard from as crybaby James Damore’s lawyer, has taken personal credit for making it impossible for Gov. Newsom to fight COVID as he intended. As she herself states:

    “I feel that our lawsuits were responsible for large sectors of California’s economy opening up much sooner than the governor originally intended,” she said, adding that she fielded countless calls from business owners. “People are absolutely devastated.”

    Believe it or not, I am not even a huge supporter of Gavin Newsom (yes, I voted for him) but when we have a confession from the murderer, I don’t see the need to look high and low for other suspects. Newsom could have done a better job, but at least he wasn’t trying to kill me.

  50. John Morales says

    chris61:

    It was whether Trump and the Republicans could be held accountable for all the covid deaths.

    Well, you haven’t established your case. If you don’t think the Republican administration had a significant effect even upon blue states, you’re deluded.

    I mean, sure — who knows what might have been if we had not had a President who denied and minimised and impeded public health measures and funding, all enabled and abetted by his administration and media cronies?

    (You’re like the lawyer who argues that if their client’s car had not been parked on the street, the car that ran into it would not have been able to do so, and therefore they’re at some fault)

    And the question isn’t where you would send your child but would you presume to tell the parents of the 50 dead kids that they were ‘lucky’ that the per capita death rate in their school was so much less than that of the other school?

    If my choices were down to those two, then hell yes!

    (Are you that stupid, that you don’t see that’s the very focus of this post?
    Hint: “actuarial statistics”)

  51. PaulBC says

    chris61@50

    It was whether Trump and the Republicans could be held accountable for all the covid deaths.

    When PZ writes “can we simplify that” that’s kind of a nod that he’s about engage in hyperbole, or more precisely oversimplification. Are you really working this hard to attack an obvious strawman?

    A lot of COVID deaths don’t even occur in the US (but I assume that’s what you meant). They have occurred in nations like South Korea, which seem to have had great success in controlling the spread. Who should be “held accountable” there? Still, Trump and Republicans were a major contributor to the disgracefully high number of cases and deaths in this country. While many people made misjudgments, I will point most (obviously not all) the blame at those who went out of their way to prevent the enactment of public health policies that while imperfect were more effective than inaction.

  52. chris61 says

    If you don’t think the Republican administration had a significant effect even upon blue states, you’re deluded.

    Move the goalposts why don’t you? I didn’t say the Republican administration didn’t have an effect, I said they weren’t TOTALLY responsible.

    (Are you that stupid, that you don’t see that’s the very focus of this post?

    Are you implying that the focus of this post is that in the light of over 400,000 deaths in the USA, we are supposed to be focusing not on who and how some politicians of whatever affiliation might have done better, but on putting all the blame on who is deemed to have done worse? Seriously?

  53. John Morales says

    chris61:

    I said they weren’t TOTALLY responsible.

    Sure. Just like the drunk driver who hit the parked car wasn’t TOTALLY responsible for the collision.

    So, care to quantify the relative proportions of deaths due to party policies?

    Are you implying that the focus of this post is that in the light of over 400,000 deaths in the USA, we are supposed to be focusing not on who and how some politicians of whatever affiliation might have done better, but on putting all the blame on who is deemed to have done worse?

    Not even slightly. That was a direct response to a claim you made (which I quoted!) where you thought absolute numbers what was relevant, rather than actuarial rates. Bit of a digression, really.

    Seriously?

    Correctly, which is more important.

  54. PaulBC says

    John Morales@54

    If my choices were down to those two, then hell yes!

    I’m with you. To recast it a little, there are two schools. One has 20 students and an average of 5 are killed every year. The other has 500 and an average of 50 are killed every year. In reality, I don’t let my kids near either of these slaughterhouses, but suppose I’m trapped in some society reminiscent of The Lottery (not to say I’m not) and I have to send them to one. Obviously I pick the one with the 10% fatality rate even if there are more total deaths.

    It’s not even all that hypothetical. Many murders occur in large cities like New York or Los Angeles based on size and the fact that they have some problems with violent crime. But there are smaller cities with a much higher murder rate and often other crime problems as well as fewer job opportunities. Given a choice, I’d live in a larger city with more total murders but a lower rate.

    Or I dunno, if I needed open heart surgery, I would rather go to a large hospital with a higher success rate than a smaller one even if the large hospital had more total complications per year.

  55. John Morales says

    PS here’s a July 2020 Vanity Fair piece (first hit of many about this point):
    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/how-jared-kushners-secret-testing-plan-went-poof-into-thin-air

    Pullquote:

    Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

    That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.

    Quite irrelevantly, it irritates me that ‘folks’ is used when ‘folk’ is already a collective noun. I’m kinda picky that way.

  56. PaulBC says

    John Morales@59 Sorry, if Porky Pig had to say “That’s all folk.” it would ruin it for me. Also: dialect! It’s a form commonly used–at least in the US–and has been since, well probably long before those Warner Bros. cartoons but I don’t have any other data.

  57. John Morales says

    [Paul, I know all that — but there’s idiomatic (idiolectic in Porky’s case) usage, and then there’s regular prose.
    Think ‘crowd’ as an equivalent — would you use ‘crowd’ and ‘crowds’ interchangeably?]

  58. PaulBC says

    John Morales@62 “Crowd” and “crowds” have different meaning as do “people” and “peoples”. But “folk” and “folks” are equivalent. “Folk” without the “s” sounds stilted in conversation to my ears, though I have tried using it sometimes in writing. “The political folks” is already a weaselly expression regardless of wording. A specific group on individuals aligned with Trump proposed this strategy. It wasn’t just a matter of random people with political interests.

    The quote came from a “health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force” so I guess he meant members of the task force who were more interested in working the crisis to Trump’s advantage than addressing a public health crisis. I don’t call them “political folks.” I call them sociopaths, and that might be way too polite.

  59. PaulBC says

    Also, I think I would turn to Jonathan Swift for stylistic tips before turning to John Morales.

  60. PaulBC says

    John Morales@64 It’s a different use of the term. It comes from the idea of “the music of the folk” but “folk music” is itself a noun phrase, often shortened to “folk” when music is implied. In fact the “s” helps disambiguate a little. If I was “listening to folk” for an hour, it could be people or music. If I was “listening to folks” then you know I mean people. So there’s at least a one-sided test.

    This is beginning to remind me of a professor I knew who said the term “automata theory” was wrong. It should be “automaton theory” like “group theory”, which is not “groups theory.” Uh, OK whatever. I will simply accept the term most commonly used.

    I am also pretty sure there are other instances of a plural in a noun phrase. How about “Operations Research”? Granted, it’s a strange name for a field that I would call optimization, but someone liked that better than “Operation Research” and it stuck.

  61. logicalcat says

    @48

    Not only the fact that California and New York are dense populations and should have more deaths but because the pandemic should also start at a port city so many deaths from New York came as a result of the medical community not knowing what to even do. I live in Miami and by the time the virus hit us hard we had all the medical data from New York and was able to adjust from what the New Yorkers learned. For example how to prevent overloading the medical system by being more strategic with discharges to nursing home, and also how to treat the virus itself with anti-coagulants which New York didn’t know until so many deaths gave us the data to figure this out. So now the fatality rate is lower just from using anti-coagulants. Leading to way less fatalities in areas that are not overpopulated blue states.

    Funnily enough there are way too many Miami natives who think the virus aint shit compared to the flu because they didn’t get to see what New York saw. They are ignorant of it.

  62. Ridana says

    The administration of the previous office holder is entirely responsible for American deaths. Obama left them a playbook on how to handle a pandemic and they threw it out without reading it, fired everyone who was knowledgeable about such things, raided government stockpiles of PPE, and pulled our people out of China where they could monitor things on the ground before Covid-19 emerged. They could have stopped this before it got a foothold here, but they hamstrung themselves with their previous actions, then denied there was any problem. Yes, they are responsible.
    .
    re folk v folks: in ordinary usage at least, “folk” is generally an adjective, while “folks” is always a noun. The latter is also usually used to denote a smaller subset of people, whereas when “folk” is used as a noun, it refers to a wider demographic, e.g., the common folk. Yes, there is some overlap, which may depend on one’s perception of the size of the group being described. :)

  63. dean56 says

    “New York and California, among the bluest of the blue states, lead the pack, accounting for ~ 20% of all deaths in the US.”

    Either
    a) You’re too stupid to see the problem with using raw numbers as a metric, or
    b) You don’t care that it’s a problem you only care about trying to make a point that supports your ignorance viewpoint

    Are you intentionally dishonest or just incompetent?

  64. wzrd1 says

    Telling is how one side tries to politicize the data, rather than perform an initial risk analysis of exposure, rate of occurance, exasperating factors, etc. So, two states with the continent’s largest and busiest ports of destination and largest transportation hubs are coincidentally in Democratic majority leadership states are equal to states with minimal traffic and Republican majority lead and all other factors are equal.
    After all, Peoria and NYC get precisely the same number of travelers arriving and staying from Northern Italy and Wuhan, amIright? Precisely the same!
    The fishing in Las Vegas port docks is equally as good as the docks at Alameda as well. Just where are the Las Vegas docks again?

  65. raven says

    Not only the fact that California and New York are dense populations and should have more deaths but because the pandemic should also start at a port city so many deaths from New York came as a result of the medical community not knowing what to even do.

    That is a good point.
    The death rate from Covid-19 cases has been going down with time as we learn how to treat those patients and develop drug therapies.

    Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates
    npr October 20, 2020

    Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness.

    “We find that the death rate has gone down substantially,” says Leora Horwitz, a doctor who studies population health

    The study, which was of a single health system, finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.

    Doctors have gotten better at quickly recognizing when COVID-19 patients are at risk of experiencing blood clots or debilitating “cytokine storms,” where the body’s immune system turns on itself, says Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease, critical care and emergency medicine physician who works at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

    In March when New York and the east coast got hit, we didn’t know how to treat Covid-19 patients.

    Now we have several antiviral drugs, dexamethasone for cytokine storms, and anticoagulants for the blood clotting problems. As well as much better protocols for handling lung oxygen issues.

    It’s made a big difference in the death rates from Covid-19 virus.

  66. snarkrates says

    Chris61: “There is no correct measure. There are only different measures.”

    It appears we can blame your idiocy at least in part on innumeracy. There IS a correct measure. There is always a correct measure. In any statistical problem, the measure that best reflects the underlying variability is the correct measure. Failure to use the correct measure introduces noise to the discussion–and the only reasons for doing that are ignorance or obfuscation. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and let you plead ignorance.
    In the case here, there are good reasons why per capita or per 100000 statistics are more meaningful than absolute numbers. However, there are also other considerations–when the deaths occurred is also important. New York’s worst performance came early in the pandemic, when we didn’t fully understand transmission or appropriate care. Rather than being dinged for the high numbers, New York deserves credit for bringing them back under control. The more recent performance has been poorer–especially with vaccine rollout. LISTEN TO THE FUCKING EXPERTS, CUOMO! FWIW, Larry Hogan also did a reasonable job keeping a lid on things, but his leadership on vaccine rollout has been laughable.
    CA actually held it together pretty well until about October/November when the shit hit the fan. A lot of this coincided with the holiday travel series and the upswing in mask/shutdown protests. I actually blame Trump for these more than I do Newsom.
    Whether one assigns the Trump administration with ~50% responsibility depends on where one starts. Certainly, the administration downplaying the threat, refusing to get being masks and distancing and promoting bogus treatments and cures has made things worse–a lot worse. This is clear in the much higher per capita rates in red states and jurisdictions. But I would argue that Darth Cheeto’s culpability extends beyond that. By zeroing out the pandemic response and hamstringing CDC, the previous administration throttled the early response to the virus. If the early response had been more active, we might have avoided a pandemic altogether. Considering that, Orange Foolius is responsible at least in part for the vast majority of deaths so far and for all future deaths due to COVID as well.

  67. chris61 says

    @74 snarkrates You seem to agree with me about Cuomo – especially his recent performance. And I’ll assume you didn’t approve of him sending covid-19 infected patients back to nursing homes for several months at the beginning of the pandemic thereby increasing nursing home deaths. I’m also assuming you didn’t think it was a great idea to have rolled out both testing and vaccines in a way that required people to have Internet access to sign up. Great way to increase infection rates among underpriviledged groups. So I guess that makes you an idiot too.

  68. snarkrates says

    Chris61,
    I think that what you fail to grasp (well, among many other things) is that Cuomo did not have many good choices early on. There was no place to put COVID infected patients. The learning curve early on was steep, and that led to higher death tolls. Response was not always informed because there was little information available. That was not the case when Darth Cheeto suggested drinking bleach or when Kristi Noem and other Rethug governors contributed to his super-spreader events.

  69. unclefrogy says

    chris61
    from reading al of this thread it sounds to me that you might think buying lottery tickets are a good bet because of the size of the winning payout.
    uncle frogy

  70. logicalcat says

    @75

    People who dont understand whats going on criticize Cuomos descicion to send patients to nursing homes while infected. This is a good thing. Before he did this the hospital system was overwhelmed and death toll rises significantly when that happens. Just like in Italy and early in the New York event. Where Im from, Miami, when the virus hit us hard we also did that. We sent patients to nursing home who were infected. As a basic EMT it was my job to transport those very patients. This allowed us to avoid having our hospital system become overwhelmed. We learned from New York. Those nursing homes in our case had a heads up and they sectioned off areas as quaranteened for that purpose. This was of course because we leanred from New York. Hell we also paid medical staff from New York to relocate to this city and help.

    People dont understand these things and they continue to use it against Cuomo and its not fair.

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