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Decline in new cases of COVID-19 is artifactual in Texas and Florida, perhaps the entire South: CNBC

2020-08-20
EM SARS-COV-2 emerging from apoptotic cells: NIAID

Yesterday I posted a question: is the drop in new cases real or artifactual? I failed to look up some important articles, which I will summarize in this post. First, there is the CNBC article from August 12 which discloses daily testing and case counts for two states: Florida and Texas. From the article:

In Texas, for instance, new cases have fallen by 10% to an average of 7,381 a day from 8,203 two weeks ago, based on a seven-day moving average. Testing, however, is down by 53% over the same time frame. Meanwhile, the percentage of positive tests has doubled over the last two weeks to about 24%, according to Johns Hopkins University. That compares with a so-called positivity rate of less than 1% in New York state, which was once considered the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.

“I really have come to believe we have entered a real, new, emerging crisis with testing and it is making it hard to know where the pandemic is slowing down and where it’s not,” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said in an interview with CNBC. The Texas data, he said, is “very concerning.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/12/accuracy-of-us-coronavirus-data-thrown-into-question-as-decline-in-testing-skews-drop-in-new-cases.html

… Texas was testing an average of 66,400 people a day at its peak on July 23, based on a seven-day average. As of Aug. 11, that number has fallen by more than half to 29,145. Average daily new cases have declined by 23% over the same period.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/12/accuracy-of-us-coronavirus-data-thrown-into-question-as-decline-in-testing-skews-drop-in-new-cases.html

The seven-day average of daily new cases in Florida has dropped by 37% compared with two weeks ago, according to Hopkins data, but testing has declined as well. The state was running roughly 54,000 tests per day two weeks ago, but that has dropped by about 30% to just below 38,000 reported tests as of Aug. 11.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/12/accuracy-of-us-coronavirus-data-thrown-into-question-as-decline-in-testing-skews-drop-in-new-cases.html

Second, there is the COVID Tracking Project, which tweeted this curve for daily testing which showed that testing is down mainly in the South:

https://twitter.com/COVID19Tracking/status/1293310516513763330/photo/1

This data is only as far as August 11 and today is August 20. I don’t know what has happened in the last ten days, but I’m not optimistic. The COVID Tracking Project has a blog that reported significant problems with the HHS versus the state reports of patients hospitalized, with irregular data coming from HHS. On August 11, this blog post discussed some of the problems.

Then, on August 14, the blog post for that day was titled, “Something is Wrong With Testing Data in the Great State of Texas.” So something is wrong. That was the last post so far. The penultimate post, for August 13, was titled, “Tests, Cases, and Hospitalizations Keep Dropping: This Week in COVID-19 Data, Aug 13” — So something is indeed wrong.

I don’t know what is going on, but I am very suspicious. Just as the situation at the US Postal Service has grown murkier by the day, the testing situation has become quite opaque even though the topline numbers seem to be improving.

A note about the USPS: the Postmaster General (PG) has apparently retreated on his changes to the Service, but that may be simply because the damage he has done is too advanced to undo.

Photos have shown high-speed sorting machines dismantled, with the pieces thrown into trash bins– probably an irreversible destruction of valuable equipment. I am in despair about the trashing of equipment that surely could have been simply turned off and covered with plastic to prevent deterioration while its ultimate fate is decided.

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