June 14, 2020

San Diego County – June 14, 2020

Today’s Charts

  • LD1 – Local Daily Update Dashboard
  • VS2 – Vital Statistics, Southern California & 5 States
  • D1 – Cumulative Cases per 10K People
  • D2 – Prevalence Index – 10 Counties
  • D3 – Case Doubling Days – 10 Counties
  • D4 – Cumulative Fatalities per 1M People
  • D5 – Daily Fatalities, 7 Day Moving Avg.
  • D6 – Case Fatality Rate – 10 Counties
  • D7 – Fatality Doubling Days
  • D9 – Daily Tests per 1M People
  • D11 – Test Positivity Rate – 10 Counties
  • D13 – Hospital Bed Utilization Rate
  • B1 – Cumulative Cases
  • B4 – Case Doubling Days
  • FAQ1, FAQ2 & FAQ3

COVID CRUSHED! “GO BACK TO YOUR LIVES,” SAYS PRESIDENT, HOLDING BIBLE “IT WAS ALL FAKE NEWS!”

There’s your click bait for the day. Interestingly, there seem to be some people who actually would believe that headline. In Orange County, Dr. Nichole Quick resigned as the health officer after threats in social media. Protesters at a meeting of the supervisors claimed that masks forced them to breathe in their own germs and inhale more carbon dioxide.

Today redditor /u/fangrider commented on yesterday’s post that he was coming to San Diego from Singapore. He wrote, “Singapore is doing well because they’re enforcing mask wearing to the extreme. It’s a $10k fine if you’re caught not wearing one, and there are ‘social distancing officers’ that walk around to make sure. “ Neither he nor I could even imagine people here accepting a “social distancing officer”, let alone a stiff fine. We’d have another Michigan demonstration on our hands, where angry white protesters show up at government buildings with semi-automatic weapons.

Then I looked up the stats on Singapore. Take a look at the current US death toll on LD1 – 117,525. How many people have died in Singapore so far? 25. Yes, Singapore is much smaller than the US, but if we normalized their death toll, we’d have fewer than 1,500 deaths. Our fatality rate from COVID is 83 times that of Singapore. Even LA’s fatality rate alone is twice that of Singapore’s.

Let me go on a slight tangent here. At first, I wasn’t on board with the slogan “Defund the Police.” What? No police? What about murders, and kidnappings and all that stuff. Then I was listening to a member of Trevor Noah’s panel who made an excellent point. She said that white people, especially middle and upper middle class white people, have already defunded the police. They don’t encounter the police in their normal lives. I started thinking of all my interactions with the police over the past 25 years. Aside from speeding tickets, there were three, and none of them involved any threat to me whatsoever.

More importantly, this slogan, which I thought was “poor branding”, got me to really think about the role of the police structurally. And not only me, but every other person I know.

OK, what in the world does this have to do with COVID-19?

Just as it’s incumbent on us to re-imagine law enforcement, we also need to think long and hard about this pandemic. Here we are, with an average death toll of 894 people per day (LD1) and an average case increase of 23,057. We have 4% of the world’s population, but 27% of the world’s cases. Well, you might say, that’s because we have the world’s best testing. Then how do you explain that we also have 27% of the world’s fatalities? Testing doesn’t increase the fatality rate.

And just as “defund the police” makes us rethink the role of law enforcement, these case and fatality rates should make us think about why we accept this. Why are we not in an uproar about this? Why do we pretend the pandemic is all over?

I submit to you that at least part of this has to do with our attitudes towards people of color and poor people. Imagine if the catastrophe that overtook New York ran through Rancho Santa Fe, or Palos Verdes, or Malibu Colony. Imagine if the virus somehow was attracted to people who lived in $3 million homes, instead of “essential” expendable workers who make Teslas and serve us our food. We accept carnage and destruction when the top 5% are spared.

That doesn’t mean the virus cares about wealth or privilege. But wealth and privilege make it easier to escape it, leaving those without to fend for themselves. And those who are truly unaware of their privilege, or who will do anything to protect it, liken mask enforcement to “Gestapo tactics.”

Well, those of you who hate my commentary will have a field day today! So go at it!

The Ten County Review

Do a quick scan of VS2 and you’ll see that not a whole lot has changed since last week: LA is still in the number 1 spot, Riverside in #2, and #3 split between San Diego, Orange, Kern, and Ventura.

D1 shows the fairly steep rise in normalized case rates for LA county, from 63 last week to 70 today. It also shows an uptick for Riverside, from 31 on the 1st of the month to 43 today. The rest of the counties are not plateauing, but their rates of increase are fairly tame.

Now jump to the D11. In the past, I was hesitant to post charts on the test positivity rate, because with the dramatic increases in testing, they plunged. That might give people the false impression that everything was over with. But look at what’s happened in LA County in the last two weeks. It’s gone from a positivity rate of around 5% to 11.3% today. Admittedly, some of that is from a decline in testing. D9 shows about a 50% decrease in daily tests per 1M, from around 2,300 to 1,300. However that doesn’t account for the entire increase in the positivity rate, and that’s a matter of concern.

I don’t know the exact reasons for the decline in testing, but I suspect it had a lot to do with the protests. It’s interesting to note, though, that declines only occurred in LA and Orange, not in San Diego, Santa Clara, or San Francisco.

D2 shows the prevalence index for LA is now down to 218, about half that of San Francisco, which was especially hard hit in February and March. San Diego is around 400, and not falling very dramatically. The steepest fall is in Ventura, where the index wend from 1,500 on May 1 to 829 today. That’s a fairly rapid decline.

Case doubling days (D3) are a good way to assess the speed of growth, and here the only counties that are clearly out of the DD zone are San Francisco, Sacramento, and Santa Clara. San Diego is also moving in the right direction, although not in the clear. LA, Kern, and Ventura have the lowest case doubling days, all around 28 days.

D4 shows the gradual convergence of normalized fatalities in LA and the US. While there’s still some distance between them — US at 353 and LA at 282, a month ago LA’s rate was only half that of the U.S. The sharpest rise is from Kern. Although the numbers are still relatively small, they are on the way to passing many other counties. With around 42 deaths a day, LA has the highest daily fatality count (D5), but Orange is rising, now at 5 per day. San Diego has fallen a bit to around 3.

D6 shows a decrease in the case fatality rate for LA, which is actually good news, since a decrease in testing would normally lead to an increase in the rate. However, this is measured with fatalities today vs. cases 7 days ago, so the testing decrease isn’t fully incorporated into this number. San Diego is perhaps a better indicator; testing has steadily increased, and the CFR has correspondingly decreased. San Francisco, at 1.6%, gives us an idea of where we may finally end up when this is all over.

I wish some of those protesters in Orange had a look at D7, and if they were swayed by data (haha), they might be more hesitant to abandon masks. The fatality doubling days in Orange has dropped to around 17 days. Orange and Kern have the most worrisome numbers out of all 10 counties. The only counties out of the DD zone are Alameda, Santa Clara, and Sacramento. This indicates that for everyone else, in another month we’ll see twice as many deaths as we see today.

Finally, D13 displays some good news and some bad. Good news for LA, because the hospital bed utilization has dropped from about 8% three weeks ago to 7.3% today. [Remember, this is not overall bed utilization; this is strictly bed utilization for CV19 patients] During the same period, Kern has seen a doubling, from 2.5% to 5.7%. Orange shows a slight increase, from about 3.7% a few weeks ago to just over 5% today. Ventura has also seen a precipitous rise from 2.5% to almost 5%.

Summing up, I wish I could give you rosy news all the way around. The data doesn’t support that, though. My goal is to give you a picture of what is actually happening, not what we all wish would happen.

Some Comments on the Local Situation

B1 shows a lot of parallel lines, with one exception – Encinitas. The case count has gone from 32 about 35 days ago to 79 today. There are some people out there who don’t consider this significant, since the absolute numbers are small. I’m not one of them.

Part of the reason for that is the fall in doubling days (B4) from around 40 days at the beginning of the month, 60 days at the end of the month, and 34 days now. Few of the 45 localities I track have had that kind of drop. I’m not going to declare it’s a catastrophe or anything like that, but it’s definitely worth keeping our eyes on.

Also, I previous wasn’t sure if the increase was coming from inside or outside the county. There was a news article recently where the reporter talked to the public health department, and they said that the increase was mainly from people having parties in their houses. This is indicative of the overall attitude among many people, i.e., we’re bored with COVID-19 and want to get on with our lives.

Stay healthy and safe, everyone.

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