Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Interplanetary news

We're all in the gutter, said Wilde, but some of us are looking at the stars. And of these, I wonder, how many realise how long it took their light to reach us. 

When it comes to the Covid-19 data the distances are more interplanetary than interstellar, so to speak. But over the next few months we are all going to need to mentally apply the correct timescales to the information that is reaching us in a semblance of 'real' time. 

For example, on Saturday the state of Texas reported a significant spike in reported infections. Some of these individuals — or folk as they are referred to there — will have been infected as a result of generally dropping their guard, going back to work (or being forced to, like a load of meat packers in the panhandle) and so on, but it’s still a bit early to make firm judgements, especially as the surge appeared to correct itself in the following day's numbers.

A proportion of these infected individuals will die, but their deaths will usually not be recorded and published for 2-3 weeks. So this spike in positives and its fellow traveller in mortality are thus never part of the same news cycle.

The 786 people reported as Covid-19 fatalities across the US today would have picked up their infections roughly a fortnight ago, when America was mostly still in lockdown and that’s if they died within the past 24 hours and are not part of a catch-up — so the downward trends we are currently seeing cannot really be mentioned in the same breath as the policy of re-openings being pursued by states like Texas.

So when Dr G tells us that our collective good behaviour since Thursday has resulted in a lower level of new cases today, he’s basically talking bollocks. 

And the impact of the unbridled deschongue all over the country today will be felt in the data served up to us next week. 

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