Tag Archives: Washington Post

A Tale of Two States (with apologies to Dickens), the denouemont

Two days I posted the following puzzle — here is the answer and a bit more

A friend in med school, a classic University of Chicago graduate, was fond of saying “that’s how it works in practice, but how does it work in theory?”

Well, this country is currently in the midst of an immense social experiment (lockdowns) essentially based on theory (models).

We’re about to find out how it worked in practice.

Here are some recent statistics from two states.

State 1

3 day moving average of new cases of COVID19 ending 25 April — 2778

3 day moving average of new cases of COVID19 ending 13 May — 901

3 day moving average of daily deaths from COVID19 ending 25 April — 177

3 day moving average of daily deaths from COVID19 ending 13 May9 — 96

 

State 2

7 day moving average of new cases of COVID19 ending 25 April — 740

7 day moving average of new cases of COVID19 ending 13 May — 525 (the state allows 14 days for all the data to roll in, so the last date they regard as having secure numbers is the 7th of May and here the number is 539)

7 day moving averages of deaths from COVID19 ending 25 April — 35

7 day moving average of deaths from COVID19 ending 13 May — 24 (the state allows 14 days for all the data to roll in, so the last date they regard as having secure numbers is the 7th of May and here the number is 27).

One state loosened its lockdown restrictions 25 April, the other had them in effect through 13 May.  Your job is to figure out which one did and which one didn’t.

The denouement — State 1 is Massachusetts (which kept the lockdown) and State 2 is Georgia which loosened them on the 25th of April.

As usual, actual data answers some questions but raises new ones.  Contrary to the disasters predicted (see later), in Georgia the new cases of symptomatic pandemic flu declined by 29% and the number of deaths declined by 22%.  The 13th of May is way past the longest possible incubation period for cases beginning prior to 1 May.  So from this, the conclusion one might draw is that the lockdown was ineffective.

But hold on. Massachusetts also showed declines in new cases and deaths, and by greater amounts 68% and 46% than Georgia (29 and 22%)  implying the lockdown was of some use (in accelerating the decline in cases and death).

Pandemics and epidemics have a natural history of peak and decline, in the USA our pandemic is on the decline.

People who assumed (on purely correlative evidence) that lockdowns prevented new cases, and that lifting them would cause a marked increase in new cases and deaths, are clearly wrong.  It’s possible that cases will spike in the future proving them right, but pretty unlikely.  It’s only fair to give the doomsayers a sporting chance and followup is planned in a month.

Here are a few predictions of doom.  Future predictions and definitive statements from these sources should be taken with a grain or more of salt.

From The Atlantic — “Georgia’s Experiment in Human Sacrifice — The state is about to find out how many people need to lose their lives to shore up the economy.” — https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/04/why-georgia-reopening-coronavirus-pandemic/610882/

The Leakathon

My late father-in-law did financial forensics for the SEC and on loan to Treasury. His work involved high-profile cases and he put many people in jail. He never, ever, discussed a case he was working on with his wife, my wife and me. He retired in 1972 just Watergate broke. Sam Dash chief counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee asked him to come out of retirement and trace the Watergate money, saying it would only be a few weeks work, but he wisely refused.

This brings us to “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House Official as a signifiant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.” as reported in the Washington Post 20 May.

This sort of thing is probably criminal and certainly disgusting. Presumably someone in the FBI is doing the leaking. Hopefully Mueller will put a stop to this.

What do you think the odds are, that collusion between Trump (or is campaign) and the Russians will actually be found? My guess is that they are quite low because, despite 7 months of leaks absolutely nothing substantive has been emitted. If the leakers had anything serious, we’d have heard of it by now.

I’ve never bought the idea that second hand smoke was very dangerous, yet we have breathless reports of second hand hearsay — Someone reading Comey’s notes (presumably not the man himself) about something he interpreted Trump to say. I don’t think hearsay evidence is admissible in a court of law.

I never really believed in the Deep State before, but it seems to be in full cry now — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_state_in_the_United_States