Putting the Scare into the People

An article from SouthCoastToday just over the border is worth a quick review for a lesson in understanding how the news media is shaping narratives around COVID-19:

Fall River reported three new cases of coronavirus and one new fatality, as the state announced Wednesday that the city has been moved to the red — or highest risk — category, with an average daily incidence rate of 8.3 per 100,000 population in the last 14 days.

The city is reporting 1,855 total cases of COVID-19, and 119 fatalities. It has had 104 cases in the past 14 days, and has an average daily incidence rate of 8.3 and a test positivity rate of 3.31%. To compare, New Bedford, rated yellow, has had 2,295 total cases. It has had 62 cases in the past 14 days, and has an average daily incidence rate of 4.4 and a test positivity rate of 2.33%.

Just calling something “highest risk category” and saying there has been a “spike” induces fear.  But putting the municipal competition aside, how big a problem are we talking?

Saying the “average daily incidence rate” is 8.3 out of 100,000 means that one out of every 12,048 people tests positive each day.  That doesn’t seem like very many at all.  Saying that the positivity rate is 3.31% means that 97 out of every 100 people who think there’s a chance they might have it and get tested actually do not.  That sounds like an overwhelming majority.

Then, something like 199 out of every 200 people who actually catch the disease will survive.

For this, we’re destroying our economy, harming our children, and giving up our rights?


Update (8/14/20 6:08 p.m.)

It appears the “highest risk” designation was based on incorrect numbers, but the argument above still applies.

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