More on the Zorgi Score *

June 30, 2020

One of the reasons I wanted to develop the Zorgi Score is that it gives me a structured way to discuss all the metrics I consider most important when looking at a locality. Unfortunately, I’ve just figured out how to implement it at the county level, and I still haven’t provided you with a comprehensive explanation of how it works. Please bear with me as I try to catch up.

I’m working on implementing the Zorgi Score for states, followed by cities in SD County and then zip codes in the county. It’s a challenge, because the same metrics aren’t available at every level, so I have to figure out how much to weigh the limited metrics at the zip code level so the Zorgi Score is comparable to the county level.

I also will be working on a very detailed explanation of the Zorgi Score with two components: a) a full explanation of why I consider that metric to be so important, and b) an exact description of how the score is derived. I realize that the majority of you may never read this, but redditor /u/blue_jean_committee convinced me that without such an explanation, it is impossible to verify whether the ZS is correct.

Today will be a bit of a hodgepodge because I wanted to discuss the local situation in some detail. Since the new Zorgi Score framework isn’t set up for it, it’s going to be an “old style” discussion.

LD1 does not have particularly good news on any front. In a mere 5 days, cases in Encinitas have gone from 99 to 127 and in Carlsbad they have gone from 136 to 167. It seems like just yesterday we were wondering if Encinitas would ever have more than 33 cases and Carlsbad more than 70. Now we have our answer. SD city’s increase hasn’t been quite as dramatic – from 5,315 cases 5 days ago to 6,272 today.

Fatalities are increasing as well. SD County went from 352 to 365, and California as you read this will pass the 6,000 mark. Even worse, the USA will pass the 130,000 mark, and the world has already passed the half million mark.

LD2 has some mCharts that are visibly going in the wrong direction. Look at the mChart for Encinitas, Carlsbad, SD City, SD County, and California. In every case, we see a sharply increasing line for cases and a decreasing line for case doubling days. This is extremely concerning. As case numbers grow, doubling days should increase as well. Staying flat is bad, but the decrease we’re seeing is not good at all.

The only bright spot is that the fatality doubling days are not flattening out or decreasing and the 7 day moving average of daily fatalities is dropping. However, fatalities is very much a lagging indicator, so even if we’re getting better at saving people, we should not be surprised if we see a reversal of that trend in a couple or three weeks.

CD5 gives a quick view of some of the cities in SD County, and it’s not much better. Five weeks ago, I was ready to stop covering Encinitas and Carlsbad. Today, Encinitas is #2 in daily new cases per 100K people with 72, and Carlsbad is #3 with 60. SD City has twice that, with 137 per 100k.

Case doubling days which one would hope would be out of the danger zone, are less than 30 days for San Marcos (16), Vista (18), and Oceanside (23).

ZD1 doesn’t show a single zip code that’s in great shape. They all have mCharts with steep rises in daily new cases. Fortunately, only 91977, 92021, 92102, 92113, and 92173 have seen a flattening or dropping of case doubling days, while the rest of the zips have grown a bit.

B2 shows a prevalence index for every locality plunging toward the bottom. The US is at the floor, with 123, but California is close behind with 179. Encinitas has gone from 1,215 at the beginning of June to 497 today. That’s quite a drop for one month. Carlsbad has done the same, from 1,525 to 694 today.

B4 shows the danger in case doubling days. Three weeks ago, Encinitas was the only locality with a super steep drop. Now Carlsbad has joined. Both cities are around 24 days, well within the danger zone. SD City is a little better off at 33 days, but nothing to be complacent about.

B5 indicates that we can’t really celebrate a lowering of the daily fatality rate, either. The US had declined to a low of 620 per day, based on a 7 day moving average, but now it’s right back up to 930 per day. California has dropped slightly, from 64 at the beginning of June to about 59 now. SD City is flat, at 3 to 4 per day.

I’ve included quite a few charts for your information. They pretty much all point out a single conclusion: the pandemic is back, not that it ever went away. Lots of people went to bars and restaurants, had big parties in their homes, or just pretended that things were back to normal.

They are not.

And if you know someone who idiotically makes it a matter of “principle” not to wear a mask, stay away from them! These are anti-social troglodytes who are perfectly comfortable infecting you for the sake of their “cause.” If you frequent a store where the management doesn’t enforce social distancing and mask wearing because they’re afraid to offend some people, let their management know that they are offending the majority of people who want to keep healthy.

Many of you have generously offered to give me money, coffee, burritos, and other material rewards. I really appreciate that. If you’re still so inclined, I’d urge you to donate to the Equal Justice Initiative.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!


Comments from Readers & My Responses

The following are some of the comments from readers on Reddit and other social media platforms where I regularly post. Reader comments are in italics and color. My responses are in plain text. If there is more than one commenter without a response, they are separated by different colors.

Hey zorgi, hope all is well!

I again have 2 question for you today,

The closing of bars/breweries and wineries sounded like great idea on Monday. Today, after learning that…

”County health officials clarified Tuesday as long as breweries, wineries and bars are serving food, through their own kitchen or through a partnership with a restaurant or food truck, they can stay open.”

It really changed my mind on how we are approaching containing the virus. To me, it seems that there is a major loophole in these regulations…… Just wondering, am I missing something here?

And lastly,

I know there’s a lot of talk about “how can there be no cases from the protest” do you think younger people who are infected are afraid to admit that they might have gotten a lot people sick? It’s incredible important to be transparent about who and where you’ve been around, but I couldn’t imagine the stress of realizing I might have gotten a lot of people sick.

Thank you again, take care!

Agreed! It seems very silly and defeats the point. I don’t understand why all restaurants can’t be restricted to takeout. I know that’s less need for employees but I don’t see how a bunch of people eating and talking without masks is safe for patrons or employees.

I love questions; you may not love the answers!

Opening up the economy is a balancing act. It’s more like a rheostat than a light switch. As a responsible government official, you have to balance health and safety from the pandemic on one side, and health and safety from the economy on the other side. If you are unable to maintain a balance at all, you have to go to lockdown mode, which is a crude tool, but works — for a short period of time.

When you rotate the rheostat toward opening up, you know you’re going to see more cases. The question is, are you able to contain them? Are they isolated to one or two people at a time? If so, that would indicate the effective transmission rate, Rt, is at 1.0 or less. If there are community outbreaks, where a bunch of people come down with the virus simultaneously, then you suspect Rt is above 1.0. If your HUR and IUR remain in safe limits, then you’re still OK; but if they start climbing to 70%, 80%, 90% — then you have to turn the rheostat back.

I think a lot of people mentally feel better with the light switch approach — on or off. It’s frustrating to not have an exact number to rely on. But that’s what managing a pandemic is all about.

On the other hand, if you just ignore the primary metrics, the way the governors of FL, TX, and GA have done, then you swing wildly back and forth. They’re not turning a rheostat though; they’re turning on the lights completely. Chaos result. Then they have to turn the switch off completely. As a government, you either have to commit to constantly fine tuning your response, based on a variety of metrics, or you’ll be condemned to using a stupid, blunt approach. You won’t manage the pandemic; it will manage you.

So, to answer your question, yes, of course there are loopholes. But that’s what the rheostat approach is all about. Bars, where people congregate for hours on end in close proximity to each other and where transfer of the virus is very easy, have different characteristics than restaurants, where generally people go to eat rather than congregate. Of course there’s no solid dividing line.

The protests: yes, no question that some cases resulted from that. How many? We don’t know now and we never will know. If we had thorough case tracking in this country, we might know, but people won’t consent to that. We don’t all have an app on our phone that shows where we’ve been, and even if we did, few people would share it with government officials. But if there were a straight cause and effect relationship, we would see a huge spike in every state that had major protests. There’s a spike in CA, but where’s the spike in NY? There’s a spike in FL, but the protests there weren’t nearly as large as the ones in CA or NY. Same with AZ. So it’s just as likely that people having big parties in their homes caused as many cases or more than all the protests put together.

There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty in all this. If you hold a big party in your house, and two weeks later, 15 people who came come down with CV19, you pretty much know you’re responsible. But if you went to a protest, you’ll never know. And frankly, I think the arrests and tear gassing of protesters caused more cases than the marches themselves, but obviously I can’t prove that.

Thanks for your questions, and stay safe and healthy!

but if we can’t even get people to wear masks for fear of their freedom there’s no way they’ll adopt these no matter how secure the science says they are.

I’m a computer scientist and there’s no fucking way I’m installing an app like that on my phone.

I am just a sample size of 1 but I can tell you that I’ve been to three protests and each time the vast majority of people are wearing masks. We are also mostly moving and although we might be yelling/chanting we tend to not be face to face. I have not gotten sick or heard of anyone who has. There is of course risk at a protest but I think it’s much lower than going to a crowded bar or restaurant or anywhere indoors where people are not all wearing masks and are talking face to face.

Good anecdotal evidence. I think zorgi is right that moving outdoors with masks is comparatively safe. Getting arrested or being in a bar is not. Working indoor as an essential worker all day unfortunately is higher risk. Surprisingly there isn’t a ton of science on this but we just aren’t seeing people catching it outdoors. I’m surprised nobody has done a comparison of two working types (indoor vs outdoor) essential workers. It would seem like the city would have both and could have all this data. On the other hand the science on masks is clear though, they are huge at reducing transmission to others.

That would be great data to see. And yes to the science on mask wearing. I can’t believe so many people are being so ridiculous about wearing them. It’s crazy making.

I agree with you 100%. I’m relieved that the uptick in cases haven’t been because of the protest. I know a lot of people were ready to denounce the protest for causing a spike in cases. I’m just shocked not even one case has come from the protest

They did announce at the county meeting today that to date there were only 28-29 cases in the whole county who had gone to protests (along with other places) in the two weeks before getting sick. There were no outbreaks at all associated with the protesters here, and contact tracers have been asking everyone if they’ve been to protests.

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