The first challenge of Chongg Ran is to visualize white and black simultaneously— not as gray.

-Still Life With Crows, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

As day 22 hits, I am still working from home, still forcing myself to get outside as much as possible. Mostly to the store from time to time. Yesterday was an actual doctor appointment, in person no less. Entry to the clinic was prefaced with a symptom questionnaire and taking of the temperature. The info was then written on a wristband. The doctor had one too. Once in the office, the medical staff seemed to all be masked, while one of the intake people (and yes, I forgot the right term) did, while the others didn’t bother. At least they all had them on properly, unlike the photos of politicians who don’t seem to understand that they need to cover the nose. Politicians…is there anything they can do?

In looking up that quote’s citation, I decided to re-read the series. Well, the first 12 books. I’ll be skipping the connected, but not main-line ones (Mount Dragon, Riptide, The Ice Limit). The sacrifices I make for this blog, right?

Anyway, on to the point of this post.

The Point

We, as a species, have a lot of problems. One that has come into sharp relief recently is the inability to hold two seemingly contradictory pieces of information at the same time. Think about it a bit. I got the strangest looks when I said that while I didn’t like Garth Brooks, I recognized his skill at country music. The idea that I can see quality in something I dislike was seemingly incomprehensible to people. It’s like being both a Cubs and Sox fan, it makes the head explode.

In the days of COVID-19, there are some seemingly contradictory positions that I think have merit. I believe that destroying small business by killing the economy was a wild overreaction. I also believe that staying at home is important, and keeping your distance to slow the spread is vital. However, on the gripping hand, I also believe that humans wouldn’t do the second unless the first happened. We are seeing that in cities across the world.

The Total Shutdown Of Businesses Is One Example

In other words, I think we both overreacted wildly, and reacted too slowly. How? Easy. I was seeing reports from people with friends and family in Wuhan as early as mid-late January that suggested the official Chinese numbers were completely false. Therefore, I cannot believe that the intelligence community wasn’t aware of this. In short, we should have known this was more than just a bad influenza. To clarify, yes, I am well aware this is not an influenza. However, at that time the disease was often described as such.

So, what effect did that have? Yes, we did slow the progression of the virus. But the impact is just beginning to be defined. Not understood, defined. We won’t even approach understanding for years. However, what I can see happening is a near-total loss of small businesses, independent restaurants, salons, bars, and shops. All those places without the ability to transition to drive-through only, and without the kind of obsessive customer base places like Starbucks have. So, why mention Starbucks specifically? Easy, because the lines at one Starbucks I have passed several times have been insane. Like Portillo’s levels. I wonder about the employees there, and how they are coping.

However, smaller businesses, without the base of a Starbucks? I fear they are in a lot of trouble. Maybe this was avoidable. Maybe not.

It Isn’t Just The Closings That Are Internally Conflicted

The other contradiction I want to address is the fatality numbers. As you can see, I added Indiana and New York to the daily tally below. Why did I do that? Firstly, because Indiana is right next door and seeing a very different COVID-19 than Illinois. Similarly, I added New York because they are having the worst of it just now, and I wanted to showcase those differences too. So, why do I say fatality numbers are contradictory? Simply because they are, simultaneously, over and under reported. Yes, that is confusing.

So here is how that works. Doctors in New York have stated that they are counting all deaths of patients with COVID-19 as being from COVID-19. Like I commented on last time, that leads to baked-in inaccuracies. To sum up that post, once we decided, for political purposes, to count everyone who died with AIDS as dying from AIDS, this became inevitable. But, at the same time, we are not seeing all the deaths connected to COVID-19. How? Well, that’s easy. In an average year, if I got sick with a cough and fever, I would take some Tylenol and cough drops, and deal with it. Basically, it would have to be really bad for me to go to a doctor. And then, if I died, the cause wouldn’t be known, as we usually don’t test for that. While it may be different now, I am not sure that it is.

What does that mean for the numbers? Well, what that means to me is that the counted cases are over-reported, while also under-reported. It is simultaneously black and white, so to speak.

Yeah, But So What?

At this phase of things, the reality is that we are seeing vastly different infections across the country. Using the three states below, you can see that. Ignore the differences in tests performed, and pay attention to the percentages. Specifically the positive percentage rate. Illinois and Indiana are pretty close, while New York is seeing more than double the positives. Why? I suspect it is who is being tested – that is, NY may be testing more symptomatic people than IL or IN. The case fatality rate is also interesting. While not in the same zip code as Italy, New York and Indiana are both higher than Illinois. Again, why?

What I do suspect is that the analysis of this will become a full time job. There have been failures at every level – and while I chalk most of those up to human nature or an inability to believe, they are still failures. The World Health Organization failed to accept that China would lie, and lie badly, about their numbers. People failed to understand that the virus was a virulent as it seems to be. And we still see people shouting for everyone to ignore it, since it’s ‘just a bad flu’. To them, I would suggest looking at the actual numbers.

Flu season is about 8 months long. In the 2018-19 flu season, Illinois saw an estimated 3,500 deaths; Indiana 113; and New York 4,749. These are estimated because the various states don’t show accurate numbers. Illinois provides an 10-year average, and New York has that information buried. Anyway, that’s not the point. At this time, Indiana has hit 180% of their flu deaths from 2018-19, and New York 132%. That is in only 35 days for IN, and 37 days for NY. The flu season is, by comparison, 243 days long.

So, yes, this is far worse than the seasonal flu.

Day 22 In Illinois

Per the state website, as of 4/8/2020 2:30 P.M., Illinois has…

  • Tested: 75,066
  • Cases: 15,078
  • Positive Test Percentage: 20.09%
  • Infection Rate: 0.119%
  • Deaths: 462
  • Case Fatality Rate: 3.06%

Infection Rate is arrived at by dividing Cases into the estimated population of IL, as listed by the US Census (12,671,821)

Day 22 In Indiana

Per the state website, as of April 7, 2020, 11:59pm, Indiana has…

  • Tested: 30,869
  • Cases: 5,943
  • Positive Test Percentage: 19.25%
  • Infection Rate: 0.088%
  • Deaths: 203
  • Case Fatality Rate: 3.42%

Infection Rate is arrived at by dividing Cases into the estimated population of IL, as listed by the US Census (6,732,219)

Day 22 In New York

Per the state website, as of April 7, 2020, 11:59pm, New York has…

  • Tested: 365,153
  • Cases: 149,316
  • Positive Test Percentage: 40.89%
  • Infection Rate: 0.768%
  • Deaths: 6,268
  • Case Fatality Rate: 3.68%

Infection Rate is arrived at by dividing Cases into the estimated population of IL, as listed by the US Census (19,453,561)

Just a reminder about the ‘Day 22’ in those section headers. That is day 22 for my experience & blog. Not the actual day for the infection tally in the listed states. Just to clear up any confusion.