Seattle Press
Community Log & News Digest
Health & Safety
We're winning, we're winning! Trump Covid Response Still Lags
US Covid-19 Rankings: Cases #1; Deaths #1; Fatality #78; Deaths/capita #12. What do these numbers mean?

Cases: WE'RE NUMBER 1, WE'RE NUMBER 1!. We are a big country. Only China and India have more people. But we have more cases than both, and both are over three times larger. Raw tallies don't tell us much.

Deaths: Size is not the answer here either. We are again #1. Our death rates per capita are eight times India's and 214 times China's. (Even if China lies about its statistics by tenfold the ratio is 140:1; no bragging rights here.)

Fatality: Here we do a little better, but we're in 78th place; scores of countries are doing better. Our world class hospitals are saving lots of lives, but the pace of infection overwhelmed the Mid-Atlantic states in April and the same is happening now across the country, notably in states that resisted so-called "lockdown" measures.

Cases/capita: Only Belgium leads the US.

Deaths/capita: Belgium, Peru, Spain, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico and the United Kingdom, in that order, have more deaths per capita. If we had our own house in order, we could help our sister republics. That would, of course, give the lie to the Administration's constant denigration of the other peoples of the hemisphere.

The clear lesson in all this is that we have been well served by our medical establishment but poorly served by our so-called system of public health, a federal-state complex that has been essentially starved by the Trump administration intellectually, financially and organizationally. The poor showing is a result of lack of concern and understanding, coupled with incompetence, and history will not be kind. (I've tried to limit the preaching to this one paragraph. 'Tain't easy. I'd have preached only to the choir, but too many are dead.)

Note: I have not compiled statistics for countries with outcomes better than the US on at least one measure or for countries with less than 10,000,000 inhabitants.

Data & statistics spreadsheet

A personal safety hint
Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr's office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.

If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds, all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that.
And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

The technique would also be useful for many other emergencies, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. One reader has suggested to her husband that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn't hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she'll know there's a problem.

From a post circulating on Facebook.
More reasons to mask up for the foreseeable future
In case you still don't understand why you should mask up to save your neighbors, here's another take. Sorry, but there's no good way to shorten it.

For starters, we can decide to be forgiving to those who did not understand the numbers at the beginning. Logistical (S-shaped) phenomena are very hard to spot at the beginning, and only specialists are likely to notice them. (Call this Phase One.) If the potential problem goes against our personal goals, we are inclined to ignore or scoff at them. The number of new cases daily remained under 100 until March 3, and by that date only 14 people had died.*

As the growth and the growth rate both accelerate, the process becomes noticeable even to non-specialists. (Call this Phase Two.) The monthly death totals accelerated: End of March 3,170; April 60,966; May 103,781; June 126,140; July 152,070; August 183,069; September 206,007. On April 16, a staggering 4,928 deaths were reported, and supplementary reports indicate that Covid-19 was a contributing factor in hundreds more in which a pre-existing condition had weakened the patient.

At some point there is a recognition that action is needed. In the case of Covid-19, authorities began to see that intervention including personal isolation was a major key to slowing the spread of the disease. Still the numbers soared. This point was not reached until April or May in most parts of the US. (Call it Phase Three.) It is marked in the graph by the peak in April, after which preventive measures took hold in the urban areas that had been the epicenters in Phases One and Two.

As the number of cases and the number of medical providers gaining experience with therapy, the death rate from the disease (deaths/cases) has declined during Phase Three, but will probably never reach zero. Thus it is necessary to examine the "latent deaths" that will inexorably happen in the future. That current average rate is about 3.5 percent since the end of January; it is about 2.3% for the last month (Sep 10 - Oct 10). Using that last number gives projections in the range 420 to 483 thousand deaths by Inauguration Day and as many as 517,000 by the end of 2021. It is also possible (and experts say likely) that additional spread and its "latent deaths" will constitute a second wave that could equal or surpass the first.

This all clearly happened in the case of the current pandemic in early 2020. It was abetted by officeholders who covered their ears when the experts whispered. The decline in daily deaths after the spring due to improving therapy and social distancing measures let deniers claim the danger was past, ("we're winning, turning the corner, rounding the curve," etc.), while the virus just kept coming.

Today October 10, the 14-day average deaths stand at 681, suggesting an October toll of over 20,000 Americans. Although the impact of the pandemic is clear, some political leaders continue to attempt to "balance" health and economic concerns to the benefit of neither.

Line by line

In the adjacent graph (click it to expand), the blue line shows the projected Inauguration Day (ID) deaths as the number to date plus that day's deaths multiplied by the remaining days to ID. Phase One starts at left and continues to the April 24 peak. The Administration seems to like the blue line, which falsely indicates that the pandemic is receding. The graph continues predicting deaths ending with the data for October 10.

The green line replaces the current day with the 14-day moving average of deaths. The red line replaces the current day with the average of all daily deaths. Both show deaths continuing to rise beyond the period of the analysis (we could extend beyond January 20, but it would just make you worry or even vote for Biden).

A black "latent" line appears alongside the red, showing the effect of the "unsatisifed" deaths to be expected among persons currently infected, giving a similar result to the average daily and cumulative rates. No matter which way one slices, it smells bad.

The "true" expected deaths in the analysis for January 20 lie somewhere between 282,000 and 484,000. Your chances of Covid-19 are somewhere between one in 282,729 and one in 483,373. Feeling lucky? (1:282K is about ten times more likely than winning the Powerball lottery. Except that you don't want to win. It's so confusing!) :-)

*Data as reported by CDC to WHO; may not correspond at unit level to dates reported in US and even less to reports on popular news sources.
How many will die from Covid-19? It depends
Multiple projections can be drawn from the same data. The blue line in the upper graph shows the number that would have been projected if the 14-day moving average number of deaths on each day since the 5th case was reported were used to project deaths through January 20 (Inauguration Day), ending with about 264,000.

The other lines show the number if the deaths are projected using each day's ratio of deaths to cases (red) or the overall average ratio of deaths to cases (green). The latter projection is just under 478,000 deaths.

The blue line, of course, is the basis of the "we're winning, we're winning" claims of the Administration during the late spring after the April wave in major coastal cities.

These projections are for data published by the World Health Organization, drawn from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other more sophisticated projections show other numbers but are generally in the higher range. Why?

When one adds a line for the number of cases, it explains much of the discrepancy (red ellipses enclose same information). The known death rate is declining as we learn more about the disease, mainly due, one might argue, from more testing and heroic measures by the medical establishment, despite slow response by government actors. For those cases already known, a projection of almost inevitable deaths can be calculated, which one might call the "unsatisfied death rate." Sadly, this amounts to (478-211=) 267,000 more Americans as of Oct 8 who will not see the Inauguration, regardless of who wins.

In the absence of a vaccine and eventually a cure, a projection through the end of 2021, based again on the 14-day moving averages, suggests that about 526,000 of us will not celebrate New Years Day in 2022.

Headed out to the rally and then over to visit Grandma? You might want to rethink that.

Donald Tr*mp and the Wonderful World of Arithmetic
US President Donald Tr*mp claimed today 20 May 2020 that the US was doing better than Germany in combatting the coronavirus also known as Covid-19. Asked to describe the medical and social impact of the disease, he appeared unable to distinguish clearly between tallies and ratios. Let us clarify.

Postulate: Donald Tr*mp did not create Covid-19 and is not responsible for its introduction into the US.

Postulate: Raw tallies are meaningless due to the large differences in the respective national populations; to make a comparison one must compare ratios.

Fact: As of 20 May, Germany with 80MM residents has had 8,144 confirmed deaths and 178,400 cases (0.1018/1000) and 178400 cases (2.2310/1000).*

Fact: The US with 330MM residents has had 93,439 confirmed deaths (.2831/1000) and 1,551,473 cases (4.7014/1000).

Fact: If the number of deaths or cases in either country is inaccurate by 50%, the relative impact of the disease in the two countries would not change.

Conclusion: Turning to 5th grade arithmetic, that means that compared to Germany, the US has had 2.73 times as many deaths and 2.12 times as many cases per capita. So we have a higher rate of infection and once infected, a higher likelihood of death. In short, you couldn't pick a more likely place to become infected with Covid-19 or to die as a result than in Donald Tr*mp's America.

The cure for this disaster will be available on November 3.

* Source of statistics linked below; values will have changed since time of commentary.

Data source

COVID-19 Update
King County has had 522 deaths among 7,212 cases of COVID-19, compared to 974 among 17,512 statewide, ratios respectively of 1:14 and 1:18, advantage Kingco. Survival rates thus appear higher in urban areas, perhaps due to concentration of treatment facilities and growing experience with the illness among caregivers. On the other hand, cases per 1,000 are higher in KC than in the state as a whole (3.27 vs. 2.33) indicating that infections decline with lower density. It remains unknown how these numbers will change as infections inexorably flow from the cities. Right now it appears that the aloof if not the meek will inherit.

Update 6/10: 580 deaths: 8529 cases.
Governor amplifies state response to COVID-19
As every state across the country faces the spread of COVID-19, I wanted to give you an update on what we're doing in Washington state:
  • The first priority has been to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 in our communities -- that means millions of Washingtonians are staying home to save lives.
  • WA has dramatically increased testing, and our insurance commissioner directed insurers to waive deductibles and copays. The state will also be covering the costs of tests for those without health insurance.
  • WA is enacting a statewide moratorium on evictions, and public utilities will be suspending shut-offs and waiving late fees.


This is a challenge unlike anything we've faced before. Yet like so many challenges our state and our country have faced, the solution is in our own hands. And if we have each other's backs, we will persevere.

We're coming together to support each other and to make our state safer and healthier. Our first priority has been to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 in our communities -- that means millions of Washingtonians are staying home to save lives.

Using local health departments, universities, and private labs, we've dramatically increased testing, and our insurance commissioner directed insurers to waive deductibles and copays. The state will also be covering the costs of tests for those without health insurance.

Additionally, I recently announced unprecedented steps to give economic relief to Washingtonians -- because nobody should lose their home because they can't pay rent during this crisis. We're enacting a statewide moratorium on evictions, and public utilities will be suspending shut-offs and waiving late fees.

Washington has in place nation-leading policies like paid family and medical leave and mandated paid sick days. We're using every part of our safety net to support families right now, including continuing to provide daily meals to out-of-school kids who need them.

Our response to COVID-19 must not just be about stopping the spread of the virus and caring for the sick -- it must also be about caring for our vulnerable neighbors and citizens whose livelihoods are impacted by this crisis.

This crisis is far from over. This challenge is unlike anything we've experienced before, but together, we'll meet this challenge with the seriousness and compassion it deserves.

You can see more here of what we're doing in Washington to respond to COVID-19 -- take care, and be safe.

More information about WA response to C-19