Garbage In

In a blog post titled “Data Not Collected Is Not Data,” Cedar writes:

It’s not just me frustrated at the state of testing here in the US. Or rather, the lack of it. Even before I fell ill with a Flu-Like Illness (FLI) a couple of weeks ago (which I am still recovering from) it offended my inner scientist that we were basing public policies and reactions on very little to no data.

There’s a ton of much more scientifically relevant stuff at the post, but that pretty much summed up my reaction to this whole mess.

To the shock of nobody… she wasn’t tested.  Wasn’t allowed to see a doctor, even, because she wasn’t dying.

More to explorer


  1. Couple of weeks in now and we’re starting to get something approximating data. I won’t disagree though, if you happen to think it’s just more garbage.

    From my humble wigwam in the middle of Frederick Manfred’s Siouxland, The state of South Dakota has 187 confirmed cases and 4,593 negative test results, for an infection rate of 3.9%.
    Minnesota has 789 positives and 23,438 negatives for a 3.25% rate of infection; Iowa, 699 positives, 8,054 negatives for a rate of 7.99%; Nebraska 255 positives and 4,294 negatives for a 5.6% rate; and North Dakota 173 positves and 5,625 negatives and a infection rate of 2.98%

    Now, we (or at least me) are talking about people who are symptomatic of a FLI (love that term, by the way) and have been tested, not the general population. But still, it looks to me like even if you’re exhibiting symptoms, it’s more than 90% likely that you’re sick with the FLI known colloquially as “the creeping crud.”

    At least in the upper Midwest.

    I have no idea how widespread testing is. Meaning, I don’t know if everybody who has symptoms of a FLI is being tested or if you still need something else in your case history (like travel to China or New York City, or you know for a fact you’re foreign traveling boss went down with it) before they’ll test you.

    So remember, my opinion is only worth what you paid for it.

  2. See, that kind of data is worth the time it takes to read– contrast with New York City, which is hitting all the ‘science by press release’ warning flags.
    I haven’t seen what Colorado is reporting, but per Sarah who lives there and got another “ugh” sick, they are diagnosing folks as having it or not by phone consultation.

    Did you catch the reporters talking to the Iowa governor? I’m pretty cynical about the media, and I was still shocked at how openly they were demanding a stay-at-home order.

  3. I think we’re eventually going to learn these blanket stay at home don’t you go nowhere! orders end up causing more harm than good.

  4. The post states:
    “Incomplete or incorrect data, or simply the lack of any data, means that the hypothesis cannot be supported, or should not be”
    Unfortunately, there are times when important decisions need to be made when empirical evidence is lacking or impossible to obtain…and “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”

  5. You’re not saying the choice was between SCRAMing the entire economy and all of our lives, or doing nothing, are you?

    Because that’s what I’m inferring here.

  6. More numbers. These are from a disqus user going by the handle of “summer” From this instapundit post.

    A quick county-by-county analysis of CV deaths (based on WaPo Death Map as of 7:30 pm Apr 3):

    100+ deaths (6) – NYC 1584, Orleans (LA) 148, Cook (IL) 141, Wayne (MI) 223, Oakland (MI) 136, King (WA) 186

    80-100 deaths (4) – Nassau (NY) 95, Suffolk (NY) 84, Jefferson (LA) 85, Los Angeles (CA) 89

    60-80 deaths (3) – Westchester (NY) 67, Fairfield (CT) 75, Macomb (MI) 65

    40-60 deaths (7) – Rockland (NJ or NY) 42, Morris (NJ) 43, Middlesex (NJ) 56, Monmouth (NJ) 48, Ocean (NJ) 45, Union (NJ) 45, Snohomish (WA) 42

    20-40 deaths (17) – Orange (NY or NJ) 30, Somerset (NJ) 23, Passaic (NJ) 34, Dougherty (GA) 30, Fulton (GA) 23, Marion (IN) 33, Hampden (MA) 27, Middlesex (MA) 38, Suffolk (MA) 21, Norfolk (MA) 24, Essex (MA) 23, Palm Beach (FL) 24, Broward (FL) 22, Miami-Dade (FL) 25, Milwaukee (WI) 24, Santa Clara (CA) 36, Clark (NV) 39

    10-20 deaths – 42 counties

    Total counties in US = 3007

    State Death Profile:
    High Death (10% or higher of regular flu deaths): NY, LA, NJ, MI, WA, CT, MA, VT, DC, CO, GA, IL, IN, DE, RI
    Medium Death (between 5% and 10% of regular flu deaths): MS, OK, KY, PA, FL, WI, OH, AL, CA, MD, ME, SC, KS, AZ, MT, ID, TN, VA, OR, NH
    Low Death (less than 5% of regular flu deaths): WY, WV, HI, UT, SD, NC, MO, NE, TX, IA, MN, ND, AR, AK, NM

    Maybe that’s meaningful information, maybe it isn’t.

    But I imagine the response would be completely different if this was a new and exotic form of anthrax or hoof and mouth disease that had jumped the species barrier and was dropping farmers and ranchers in flyover country.

    Heck. I bet the response would be completely different if this was something that originated within and spread from an immigrant population to infect a large number of people in Kansas City Mo (Let’s say “exotic Chinese bbq” was all the rage at the recent bbq festival for example.)

    I’m pretty sure We’d have locked down and quarantined Kansas City by now. Because the national media isn’t headquartered there.

  7. The states of WY, WV, HI, UT, SD, NE, ND, NH, ME, MT, AK all have fewer than 10 deaths in the whole of the state according to the latest Worldometer update for the U.S. Which makes those state comparisons as percentages of regular flu related deaths iffy. Either the states are calculating flu deaths differently or larger/older population numbers are skewing the percentages.

  8. Foxfier, thanks for linking to an article that makes statistical and scientific sense (they don’t always go together). The question is, why aren’t the government epidemiologists (Fauci, Birx) taking note of this? One wouldn’t expect non-scientists (Trump and down the line to know about it).

  9. Ben- as she points out, we’ll never get the information we need, because they didn’t bother to try to get it when it was available.

    Did you see the “you want people to DIE!!!” flip-outs at folks who went less than up to 11 on preventing deaths? They’re epidemiologists, sure, but they’re also government. They are safer if they share the worst case scenario. It’s like that Star Trek advice from Scotty where he tells the engineer to always give twice the time he thinks it will take as a bare minimum.

    For why the reporters aren’t bringing it up, they’re too busy screaming that anybody who isn’t for house-arrest wants people to die….

  10. Negative tests are massively exceeding positives. Except for the NBA stars and the wealthy that means people have severe flu symptoms. How many of them require ICU beds and how many of them have died? Or doesn’t that stat matter?

  11. Took me a couple of reads to figure out you were talking about the folks who are showing up with “ILI”– Influenza Like Illness, but don’t have A or B flu, or the kung flu. (Needz moar kahfeeeee.)

    Good point. That’s the kind of question reporters should be asking.

  12. In my state, 17 people have required hospitalization and 2 have died. Out of 187 confirmed cases.
    Now, 1 of those deaths went from no symptoms to deceased in under 48 hrs, so this is nothing to sneeze at.
    Also we have 2 new deaths that made the 10 o’clock news last night, but won’t show up in the official numbers for a day or two.

  13. Ernst– not you! Ken! FLI and ILI are both totally valid terms, FLI is the one in the quote and ILI is what the CDC calls it.

    As far as the “no symptoms” thing goes– even since I posted this, I’ve gotten more skeptical about that. Too many cases of people “without symptoms” supposedly spreading the disease, and then you find out that according to THEM they were miserable but not get-to-the-ER-now sick for days before.

  14. You know, the other day, my wife was talking about a friend who has a still-open home daycare (because she can’t afford to close) and who is also expecting a child in the next month, so she’s starting to get really nervous about the Wuhan flu; I mentioned if I was running an at-home day care, I’d be doing temp checks the kids three times a day.

  15. That’s a good point, Foxfier… on top of potential false positive tests, there’s “asymptomatic” as in “I feel fine” and there’s apparently “asymptomatic” as in “I didn’t think I had anything BAD/I wouldn’t normally count that as sick enough to stop doing anything/I’m afraid to admit I knew I was sick/I honestly thought it was just allergies but I don’t want to admit anything” and of course, apparently also bad reporting. Argh.

    I can only point fingers so much. I’m nearly sure I’m not actually sick now, and I don’t go out much anyway… but I haven’t completely shaken the cough from January and the air is very polleny, so the onset of something new could easily be missed.

  16. nod I can’t tell if I’m achy and feel like crud because I’m sick, or because I’m stuck at home during prime fieldtrip time and have done six months worth of stuff from sheer boredom, plus doubling my exercise routine. The sneezing is probably from cleaning, but….

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