We all screw up. I did yesterday.
I used a term I shouldn’t have. While a majority of readers felt fine with it, there was one, from /r/losangeles, who really got me thinking. Redditor /u/Inappropriate_Comma wanted to send my post to their family to get them to rethink their position on the pandemic, but he couldn’t. He knew as soon as they saw the headline, they’d stop reading.
Now this reader was far from the only one who told me that. It’s not like there were dozens of people who said the same thing; in fact, there were 6 or 7. But I saw that reader worrying about the older generation, about their confusion at the hands of irresponsible and dangerous politicians, and it hit home. So I removed the headline on my website, edited some words, and six minutes later, that reader sent the post to the family.
Why did I use that language? I was supremely frustrated, like all of you. I thought of all the months in lockdown, and how it was most likely a total waste of time. The purpose of the lockdown was not to defeat the virus once and for all; it was to get some time to build an infrastructure of testing, tracing, treatment, and isolation; time to create a national plan for PPE and testing supplies; time to formulate a national strategy to open up safely.
Did we do any of that?
Yes, state governors did the best they could, but this was clearly something that had to be done on a federal level. We have the expertise in this country to do something like that. The problem is, we have incompetent, apathetic leadership. If this were a war, the general would be summarily replaced and retired from the military. Since it’s not, we have to wait until November.
That’s what frustrated me. The tens of thousands of people who will have to die needlessly. The families who won’t be able to find jobs. The kids who can’t go to school. The many teachers who are writing to me every day to tell me about how afraid they are to go back to work.
Yes, the people who mindlessly parrot the lies about masks and everything else from Fox News and OAN are loathsome to be sure. But they are nothing more than fearful opportunists. If they didn’t have criminally negligent politicians urging them on, they’d retreat back into their yards and basements and bitch about the world.
We are going to have to deal with an absolute c******f***k until Trump is replaced. What do we do in the meantime? We put maximum pressure on every politician and civic leader who toadies for Trump and his superspreader ideology. People like the members of the Orange County Board of Education who asked everyone to return to school with no masks and no social distancing. People like Kristin Gaspar, who has been leading the attacks on Dr. Wilma Wooten, who is trying to stem the pandemic.
On a personal level, we have to convince everyone we can that it is their personal responsibility to do what they can to stop the spread of the virus. That means our kids, our parents, our grandparents — anyone who has an ounce of doubt because of the rotten messaging from Trump.
Usually it’s pure hyperbole to say your lives depend on it. Not this time.
I’m now storing Zorgi Scores at the state level (county level is next). Take a look at ZS0.
In the past month, every single Zorgi Score has just about doubled. That’s an indication that things are not going well in not just one metric, but just about every metric I get at that level. AZ is the highest at 23.6, but CA is not far behind at 15.2.
Now take a look at how closely this parallels a crucial metric, positivity, as shown in ST8.
Here CA doesn’t look quite as bad, with a test positivity rate of just under 8%. But it should be at 5% or less. And then there’s AZ, at 26.5%, FL at 18.7%, TX at 16.9%. This is a clear indication that our testing infrastructure is broken. All over the country, people are reporting a wait time of 5 days, 7 days, even two weeks to get a result.
Want to hear the most disgusting reason for this?
Fax machines. Yes, a huge number of labs set up fly-by-night operations, without anyone in IT to set up simple electronic transfers. There was lots of money to be made, so as long as there were no rules against it, why not send all the results back to the public health departments by fax? So now all over the country, these departments have paper spewing out everywhere with results that have incomplete addresses, no phone numbers, illegible results.
What if you’re a case tracker dependent on those results? You’re SOL, that’s what. Effective case tracking requires very quick turnaround time on test results – less than 8 hours. After all, what good is case tracking if your suspected positive case is running around the community infecting other people?
So goal number one of the lockdown, to create an infrastructure of testing, tracking, treatment and isolation, is null and void.
A second goal was to build up the proper logistics and national planning to have an adequate supply of PPE and test supplies. However, there are severe shortages of reagents and swabs reported in every hard hit state. Say goodbye to goal number 2.
Just as the month of February and March was wasted, so have been the months of May, June and July. Meanwhile, 139,000 people are dead.
I’m going to let the rest of the charts speak for themselves. I’m not posting all the charts and tables here. To see them all for today, go to this post on my website.
Two final points.
- Teachers, parents of school age children, people who work in the public school system: I’m working on a commentary about schools opening up. I would like to know what you’re worried about. Do you think your school board has adequately addressed all the issues? Is the federal government giving you the support you need? Is online teaching a viable option? Please DM me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Data nerds out there: you’ll notice I have Zorgi Scores for 33 zip codes in SD county, and the data tables to back them up are on zorgi.me. This whole process has been automated, so it’s not difficult for me to keep up. I’d like to do the same for LA, but without a data source with a good API, that’s impossible. If you know of one, please DM or email me.
Be safe, stay healthy, and wear your mask!