GALVESTON

The rate of diagnosed infections of COVID-19 in Galveston County is extremely worrying and shows no signs of slowing down, Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser said Friday.

Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the past week have increased from eight to 49. The short time in which that occurred is troubling, Keiser said.

“Our doubling time has increased dramatically,” Keiser said. “We’re almost at 50, and two days ago we were at 27. Our doubling time is between two and three days right now. What that means is that we’re on a trajectory to have the number of cases explode.”

On March 21, there were eight diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Galveston County. That number more than doubled to 18 by March 23 and doubled again to 40 on March 26.

The health district on Friday announced nine new diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Galveston County, bringing the total number of cases that have been diagnosed to 49. Testing in Galveston County began on March 2, according to the health district. In the past week, testing has increased significantly, to about 200 a day, according to the district.

No one in Galveston County has died from a coronavirus infection. Two people have required long-term hospitalizations, according to the district. Four people who have been diagnosed with the virus have recovered, the district said.

Of the tests that have been conducted on Galveston County residents, between 8 percent and 12 percent are coming back positive for COVID-19, Keiser said.

It’s unclear whether that number is high because of the number of people in the county who are infected or because local testing has been focused on people who are showing serious signs of infection, Keiser said.

Per capita, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Galveston County is higher than in Harris County, Keiser said.

“One reason could be that we’re testing proportionally more of our population,” Keiser said. “I don’t know if the difference between us and them is because we have a higher rate or if we’ve been more selective than they are about people who are more likely to be positive.”

Galveston County cities began to enact some forms of social distancing measures two weeks ago, though a countywide stay-at-home order only began on Tuesday evening. Some of those stay-at-home orders will end next week unless governments extend them. Gov. Greg Abbott’s order closing bars and restaurant dining rooms is supposed to end on April 3, as is the county’s stay-in-place order.

It was too soon Friday to know whether any of Galveston County’s measures have had any kind of effect on the spread of the virus, Keiser said.

“It’s really going to take a couple weeks before we would see any demonstrable flattening of the curve,” Keiser said.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(65) comments

Ron Woody

"What that means is that we’re on a trajectory to have the number of cases explode.”

"In the past week, testing has increased significantly, to about 200 a day, according to the district."

Let me make sure I understand what has happened. So a virus has been running through the County and our Nation without available testing for six weeks. Limited testing became available two or three weeks ago. In the last week testing has increased significantly. These are all facts that have been stated in GDN and by local health officials.

So for four to six weeks there is a backlog created that once testing begins of the truly sick and paranoid, has to create a bubble. There is a six week backlog of testing so a curve/peak has to occur. It is impossible for a curve/peak not to be created regardless of the number contaminated.

What was the daily number of tests prior to this week? 20, 50, 100? Let's choose the middle number of 50. So the county is now doing 300% more tests a day and are surprised there are more positive cases being found. I am sorry if they are shocked, but I am not given the availability of testing.

Why is the availability of testing never taken into account for the development of the curve/peak? I have not seen that anywhere. Even when Dr. Keiser states that testing has increased significantly, there was no follow up reported as to what that meant from a week ago.

So once the backlog is lessened with increased testing the curve/peak goes away and the 20% that show symptoms are the ones showing up to be tested. WOW! the curve/peak suddenly goes away.

Many will say this is a poor theory, but again, and evidently this needs to be repeated, over and over and over and over, 80% of the people that contract the coronavirus are asymptomatic, show no or few signs of symptoms. It is impossible to know the affects of an illness with an unknown population. I do not care if you are Albert Einstein you can not give a numeric answer.

I am sure that many will say there is something that I do not understand or that I am a Pollyanna or worse. Let me ask what did I say that is inaccurate, miscalculated or wrong. Do not answer with emotion and fear, please answer with fact.

Or are you one of those that is so fearful of this virus you feel the need to leave your house so that you can report on fellow citizens exhibiting their right to assemble? If you are that fearful then stay in your house. The idea that legal authorities would act on reports of assembly or that a city is assessing fines for assembly is not an America I care to be a part. I would rather die regardless of the cause of death as many, many thousands before me have than see our country turned into a Totalitarianism State similar to China, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Soviet Union/Russia. For those of you that take it upon yourself and believe you are looking out for the benefit of others, look in the mirror. That is exactly what the citizens of those great nations told themselves, "I am doing what the government is asking", "I am more loyal than the others", "I am protecting the greater good".

You are despicable people and I hope that I am never, ever, your neighbor!

All this being stated the coronavirus should be taken seriously as should influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, etc. It is up to each of us to make independent decisions for our own health, not the government.

Ray Taft

Currently, the government’s secrecy about who is infected seems to be protecting those infected, and not the general public. Shouldn’t that be reversed?

Maybe knowing who is infected and where they live would help people make decisions for themselves. If there are hot spots, those areas can be locked down and not the whole county.

Ron Woody

Correct, just as numerous school districts shut down for influenza every year, the entire nation's school districts do not shut down.

If you look at the per captia numbers based on population and temperature it is obvious with the exception of perhaps New Orleans, which is highly congested and contaminated on a normal day, Coronavirus appears to not be as significant in warmer, humid climates. Even in California the cases are distributed to the Northern part of the State.

All that being stated it is impossible to know the Hot Spots when 80% of those contracted with the virus are asymptomatic. Mr. Taft, keep repeating that to yourself, 80% show no signs. If you are that concerned then stay inside, because chances are that you have already come in contact with someone or may even have it yourself.

With 49 cases and a population of 337,890, .0145% of the county has contracted the virus. As testing increases this percentage will increase. The infected population is unknown and is certain to be 200 to 300 percent greater than identified due to the asymptomatic nature.

Texas with a population of 28.3 million and 2009 cases, means that .007% of the State population has been diagnosed.

The Draconian measures nationwide just do not add up. I am not questioning the science behind the diagnosis, just the math.

Speaking of which, oh yeah, another day just went by and another $3.3 million out of the Galveston Island economy. $36,300,000 gone from the Island economy for zero deaths! How many have died from cancer, flu, pneumonia in the last two months. It is greater than zero.

Ray Taft

One thing I'm not going to keep repeating to myself is that it's unknown who has been identified as being infected and where they live. The authorities know who and where they are, but the public doesn't. I think we should know too.

And about your reasoning, if you are "not questioning the science behind the diagnosis," then the draconian measures do add up, if the medical experts' science is correct. Obeying a stay at home order doesn't make somebody a worry-wort.

An economic remedy passed by Congress has been signed into law by President Trump to remedy the economic ills.

Ron Woody

Mr. Taft please factually explain to me that if 80% of the people with the virus show no symptoms how the government or anyone else can identify where hot spots exist. It is not possible. So keep worrying about those 20% identified and ignore the 80% unidentified. Yeah that is rationale! Just stay home if you are that concerned and leave the rest of us already infected or exposed alone.

New estimate from Oxford University in the UK has a theory that because of the two to four week incubaction period and the asymptomatic behavior 50% of the UK will be infected and not even know it. That drives the mortality rate tremendously lower.

Your need to publicly identify and stigmatize those infected reminds me of the ignorance of AIDS/HIV in the 80's and the thought process is just as ignorant today.

Apologies for grammatical errors, doing this on my phone.

Chuck DiFalco

"The idea that legal authorities would act on reports of assembly or that a city is assessing fines for assembly is not an America I care to be a part." I couldn't have said it better myself. A small victory was made in League City when city council refused to order fines on assemblies of worship.

The end never justifies the means. Ignoring the means "for the greater good" is totalitarianism.

Gary Scoggin

On the other hand Dr. Keiser and other professionals who have spent their careers studying public health could be right and all of us arm chair amateurs could be wrong. Or is that even a possibility?

Ron Woody

I didn't say he was wrong. What I said was when he says cases are going to explode and then his next statement is testing has increased significantly. Obviously, cases will explode if testing is increasing by 300%.

I am not questioning the science just the math.

Mr. Scoggin, maybe you can answer the same question I ask everyone. What is the mortality rate when the affected population is unknown and 80% of that population show no symptoms?

That is all I am asking.

Gary Scoggin

I’m willing to bet Dr. Keiser understands the math. I know enough to know what I don’t know. And I know I don’t know how to make simple calculations about complex issues.

Terri Abraham

I've seen that they exhibit mild symptoms, not none.

Ron Woody

My apologies the statement is that they show no or few symptoms. If you follow my comments through this string that is the only time I left out few. My apologies and 50 lashes with a wet noodle or 10 with a riding crop if you are into that! I will take either!

Ron Woody

Mr. Scoggin are you referring to such noted health experts as the NYC Health Commissioner, Dr. Barbot, who on February 2nd, stated NYC Citizens had nothing to worry about and that NYC was well prepared for any crisis. (I am paraphrasing) Do you believe she might regret those statements now? Even though I may agree with her, to believe someone is an expert just because they have done something their entire lives is a mistake. As of February 2nd, we knew enough to at least warn the elderly and compromised.

Never ever forget that public health and research survives on tax dollars and every health crisis means more dollars for their budgets. There is always an agenda.

AIDS/HIV research was receiving the greatest amount of government research dollars in the late 80's yet it was way down the list on cause of death. There is always an agenda.

Apologies for any errors on my phone again.

Gary Scoggin

Wow. Someone made a mistake! And now we should ignore all in her profession because of it. Does it work that way with politicians? Politicians, by the way, rely on tax dollars even more than public health people. But I suppose they have no agenda.

Chuck DiFalco

"professionals who have spent their careers studying public health" don't know anything about economics, and therefore don't know that they're risking 10 times as many deaths due to another depression. Ironic that they risk killing the patient (America) to cure the disease.

Gary Scoggin

And policians and economists don't know anything about public health and therefore don't know that they're risking 10 times as many deaths due to an overwhelmed healthcare syste. Ironic that they risk killing many patients (Americans) to save an economy that can eventually recover.

It works both ways Chuck. Which side do you want to err on? I will say this, I trust the judgementt of the scientists more than I do the judgement of the politicians.

Chuck DiFalco

Mr. Scoggin, no, it doesn't work both ways. It's asymmetric risk. Depressions drag on for decades and cause global conflict. The original Great Depression resulted in tens of thousands of business closures, and millions of Americans thrown in poverty, hunger, lack of medical care, disease, despair, and early death despite all the government programs. Triple that if Depression 2.0 occurs, again, despite all the government programs. Printing digital money and borrowing from the future doesn't create wealth for sustaining businesses and jobs. If we're not lucky, tens of millions more could die globally because of wars started by newly formed or emboldened totalitarian regimes.

We're so anxious to increment the body count from coronavirus, because it's easy and sensational, but we won't be counting the bodies from Depression 2.0, will we? Or measuring the prolonged suffering? Or calling out the lockdown deniers that they waited too long for America to go back to work again? Do we want to continue a high stakes experiment to see how many days locked down America can bend before it breaks?

Wayne D Holt

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Gary Scoggin

We don't know the risks of a depression today. A lot of - but not all --the practices that led to the Great Depression and the Great Recession have been stopped. Is today's global economy more resilient than it was 90 years ago?

What do you propose as an alternative to keep the economy going? Is there a scenario where we can relax our current measures without a tenfold or more spike in deaths? I haven't seen one.

Also, should those who advocate backing way off on control meaures take a vow to go into hospice if they are infected as not to clog up a hospital bed? Are you willing to do this? If so, I applaud you for the courage of your convictions. If not, why not.

Chuck DiFalco

Actually, we do know the risks of depression today, and the global economy is more at risk that it was 90 years ago. Just do an online search on global debt explosion. One example of many: "The world's debt rose by $3 trillion in the first quarter of 2019 — an almost unprecedented borrowing binge that brought total global debt to $246.5 trillion. Why it matters: High levels of debt put countries in a vulnerable position in the event of a downturn and could endanger the world's economic recovery, said economists from the Institute of International Finance, which released the study today." Axios.com

As far as going to hospice, the scenario is not as cut and dry as you suggest. Just because you get coronavirus doesn’t mean you will get deathly ill, even if you are in a lethality risk group. I think that people with mild symptoms shouldn’t even go see a doctor, let alone go to the hospital, to make room for other patients who need help more. Can’t we do more telemedicine? I have read that the “emergency switch” symptom is shortness of breath. As I understand it, a high percentage of deaths from coronavirus occur among patients on ventilators. No patient will be taking a vow, but triage can and should be performed at hospitals, and some like my aunt (years ago from cancer) will choose to spend their last days at home, or somewhere else besides the hospital. I don’ think we’re there, yet. I’m guessing after 60 days of lockdown of more than half the country, which began somewhere between March 25 and 27, we’ll start seeing riots in cities scattered across the country amongst the jobless, newly desperately poor that have overwhelmed slow government support programs. I’m guessing after 90 days, Depression 2.0 will be unstoppable. So I’d say if we’re still in lockdown in early June, lockdowns should be lifted selectively but immediately, even if some emergency room patients are turned away. I can’t believe we can’t plan to mitigate that. However, the Hitler wannabes of the world are waiting for us to screw up and for themselves to grab power.

The clock is ticking.

Kelly Naschke

Thank you for articulating these points Mr. Woody. I can’t speak for everyone, but just about all in my circle of friends and family, agrees with your statements. Some even think this was a calculated release of the virus intended to cripple our economy. It makes me sick to think that certain a political party and our pathetically biased media, that has repeatedly failed to take down our president, could be behind this as a final attempt at derailing the president before the election.

Bailey Jones

"Some even think this was a calculated release of the virus intended to cripple our economy" - what kind of mental poison are these people feeding themselves?

Paula Flinn

It’s HATE! It’s what we used to call, “Stinkin’ Thinkin.” Reject it! It’s toxic!

All of us need to pull together in our communities to do what we can to save lives, even if it infringes on your “personal liberties.” This is life or death, people. If someone in a position of authority tells you to stay home, stay 6 feet away from others, and take only “essential” trips, they are doing it for your safety and the safety of others, the “greater good,” which applies to you, too.

They are not acting like Hitler or any other dictator. They are trying to save lives, all lives.

Take it seriously, and stay at home, as much as possible.

Watch Gov. Cuomo of NY State. He is the voice of reason and states facts. Other Governors, both R & D, are stepping up! NYC may start imposing $500 fines on people not social distancing. Louisiana, now, is in a dire situation with more immediate cases than they can handle. Texas hospitals need to prepare.

Carlos Ponce

Gov Cuomo is looking out for his constituents as is expected. Apparently many in New York State are not not heeding his advice to limit activity and wash as witnessed by the widespread effects in that state.

Chuck DiFalco

"An economic remedy passed by Congress has been signed into law by President Trump to remedy the economic ills." If the lockdown on the majority of the country is enforced for more than 90 days, no amount of government remedy will prevent Great Depression 2.0. Do you really want to take the risk to try to prove me wrong?

Jim Forsythe

If the known is 80% show mild or no signs and 20% have the worse cases, all they do is if we have 20 people that have the bad cases then we have 80 that show little or no signs. By tracking the 20% gives a picture of what is going on in an area. When the 20% equal the amount needed to declare an area a hotspot, they do.

Using the 20% as a measure, this is how they determine when the curve has reached the top.

If you are following the guideline, why is it important to know the address of the person? If a person in Galveston county has, is all I need to know.

Carlos Ponce

"If a person in Galveston county has, is all I need to know." Correct, Jim. Some have forgotten about patient confidentiality. If publicly identified, someone would be in deep legal trouble unless they identified themselves à la Tom Hanks.

Was there a cry in the 1980s and 90s to identify by name who had AIDS? No.

Charlotte O'rourke

I don’t want a person or address identified for covid 19. I want to see cluster numbers identified by city. If it is a large city like New Orleans, New York, Houston etc. then also by city areas.

Government must have this information as they list some cities as hot spots. Of our cities in the county what are the numbers?

How would this information violate privacy? Aren’t they already giving numbers for some cities? Yes. So, What’s up with not giving the numbers for cities in our county?

Gary Scoggin

The Health District provides information on its website about all confirmed county COVID-19 cases. It does not list a city-by-city count.

https://www.gchd.org/about-us/news-and-events/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/galveston-county-confirmed-covid-19-cases

I think that the county is too interconnected for clustering to really mean much. This county has a population density of about 345 people/sq mile. I suspect if we were to see the distribution of cases by city, it would look a lot like the the distribution of population.

Ron Woody

Folks can you please read and think. There are no bad or good cases, there are bad and good immune systems. You could be living in the heart of an apartment complex filled with 20 and 30 year olds that show no symptoms and every one of them could be contaminated yet they have no symptoms. That would be a Hot Spot yet no one would know. That is why I keep repeating 80% of contagious are asymptomatic. It is also why to some this is scary but you do not know who has it. It is also why the mortality rate will be at least half of what is reported because they are only use known cases when establishing the mortality rate.

Please take out a calculator go back to fourth or fifth grade and do the math.

Jim Forsythe

Charlotte, we do not have any areas that are considered a hotspot yet. If they released the number per city, it would help how. Say Hitchcock had a case, what would that tell you? It would not tell you the address of that person. Hitchcock is large in area so it would not tell you anything. It may cause people to panic in an unrealistic way. Just because that person lived in Hitchcock would not mean they did not shop in Galveston, buy gas in Texas City on their way to work. On the way home, they may have stopped at a corner store in La Marque.

New Orleans has released the Hotspots, which are listed below. More may be added later.

New Orleans: Since the coronavirus outbreak began on March 9, LDH has identified these nursing homes, independent living facilities or assisted living facilities as places where multiple cases of coronavirus that appear to be connected have been confirmed: Including the ones below.

Chateau De Notre Dame, Chateau D'Ville , Chateau St. James, Good Samaritan, New Orleans, Lambeth House, Luling Living Center, Nouveau Marc, River Palms Nursing and Rehab, St. James Place, St. Joseph of Harahan, Vista Shores

Charlotte O'rourke

Yes. I go to the county’s website. But people keep posting that it is due to privacy concerns as the reason not to report numbers, and that can’t be correct because some counties report by city.

Thanks for your response.

Report by cities in a county example:

https://voiceofoc.org/2020/03/county-releases-city-data-of-reported-covid-19-cases/

Charlotte O'rourke

Hi Jim, I’m looking for numbers in the cities to calculate % of cases to city population as it changes.

I’m frustrated that our county doesn't report the number of cases by city. There is no privacy issue that I’m aware of.

Thanks for the info.

Mary Gillespie

If the doubling time has INCREASED as indicated in the article, that indicates the virus is spreading MORE SLOWLY, and each person is infecting fewer people than previously. This is a VERY GOOD thing.

Wayne D Holt

I felt that over the past week or so I have been monopolizing these boards with multiple comments so it is very heartening to see others not just making one line comments but trying to come to grips with the fallout of the medical, economic, emotional and constitutional ramifications of the current crisis.

I can't speak for others like Ron and Chuck who seem to share my same distinct unease with where this is going but I suspect they would be comfortable with the following. Please excuse the length.

1) This is a significant public health emergency. No rational person denies that; 2) there is an obvious distortion of statistical data based on the evidence we have and the response s we have seen; 3) that distortion is based on factors including most folks lack of familiarity with how false conclusions can be drawn from poor statistical modeling but may also include a history of crises being used to obliterate civil liberties in this country; 4) we are at a crossroads as the geniuses in government who couldn't be bothered to prepare for the pandemic they warned us about a generation ago now claim the authority to supercede our God-given rights to handle it in a misinformed panic that will accrete yet more emergency powers to a government that has shown itself unworthy of the tremendous power it already has.

President Trump--no matter what you think of his persona--is trying to keep us from falling into an economic black hole that will be far worse than the Great Depression. If damage to the distribution systems of food and fuel began to occur, it will be a cascading failure that will be like an avalanche gaining mass and momentum down a mountain. This is not conspiracy theory; this is how highly complex systems that rely on just in time delivery, automation with specialized technology and skilled humans to keep them up can begin to fail. When they do, the third and four-tier effects of that create cascading failures that end with empty shelves in stores, no trucks on the way to supply them, no factories producing the food, and farmers unable to supply the factories the raw materials.

The government declaring that food and fuel production WILL REMAIN OPEN is the modern equivalent of King Canute trying to hold back the tide. A decree, even from Washington, does not sustain a system with a million points of potential failure along its production path.

How can we accept a Congress and federal government that squandered a generation of warnings while they made corporations rich and identity politics their centerpiece yet now claim the authority to obliterate the Bill of Rights?

How can we not see the obvious progression here: Act I was 9/11, leading to a never ending "war on terror" that created mass surveillance of the American people; Act II was the 2008 financial crisis which delivered into the hands of the very people who created it trillions in bailouts while throwing uncounted families into the street, trying to survive on subsistence wages; Act III is the current medical emergency, in which Americans are being thrown out of work by the millions based on faulty statistical models that are misunderstood by a political class that ignored the danger for 20 years. And yet...and yet...we are told the most recent, and probably final, abuse to our remaining civil liberties are being erected out of "necessity".

Necessity for whom and for what?

We can beat this and we can come out the other side of this crisis an America that understands the central role of individual responsibility and caring for our neighbors, not marching to whatever orders are barked at us. We can take back the power we have so cavalierly handed over to central authorities who have a 100% proven, historically accurate record of incompetence and malfeasance. We can only do that if we are not flat on our back, unsure of where tomorrow's meal will come from.

I completely understand those who fear the virus and I completely support--and practice--all the voluntary methods that minimize risk of exposure to me and to others. But for me, being able to breathe means being able to breathe freedom's air, not suffocated by the decrees, through ignorance or willful corruption, of a political class that has long outlived its usefulness to We The People.

Ron Woody

WOW! A HEARTY HEAR, HEAR!!

Gary Scoggin

Wayne... I appreciate you well thought out reply and reasoned positions. I do want to come back to your statement regarding statistics. You said, “ 2) there is an obvious distortion of statistical data based on the evidence we have and the response s we have seen; 3) that distortion is based on factors including most folks lack of familiarity with how false conclusions can be drawn from poor statistical modeling but may also include a history of crises being used to obliterate civil liberties in this country;“

Where we disagree is whether or not this is “poor statistical modeling.” I tend to ignore the media and political sensationalism around the models but I do pay attention to statements made by the modelers themselves. I know a bit about statistics (9 hrs in college including six in grad school and some involvement with pretty sophisticated modeling as part of my job.). And as I said earlier I know enough not to know I don’t know the details of this modeling but I know enough to bet that the guys that do it probably get it. I spent a long time in a technical field and I was often called to deal with really smart people new to the subject who thought they understood things as well as I did but didn’t. I just say this to respectfully ask others to reflect on the competency of experts before attacking their conclusions, especially if those conclusions point to solutions you don’t like.

I do get your point on the civil liberties angle. I can see many of our leaders who would be enticed by having more control of our daily lives. Frankly, our President tops my list. But I have enough confidence in our soldiers and military leaders to believe they would not follow illegal orders and let our nation turn into a dictatorship.

Ron Woody

Mr. Scoggin, currently in our country their are law enforcement authorities stopping people in their car and asking what they are doing. Neighbors are turning on neighbors and reporting them to the authorities for assembling. This is not appropriate behavior in the US and it is just one step closer to loss of individual freedoms and rights.

Statistical modeling is very difficult, but this is simple math:

X/Y = Z

X = number of deaths from coronavirus

Y = number of coronavirus cases

Z = mortality rate

We have been told over and over again that 80% of those infected show few or no signs of the virus. It is impossible to calculate the mortality rate with an unknown population.

This is a complex issue but the math is not. I am not questioning your thoughts but when you were working with these supposed intelligent individuals, were you not paid to challenge or question their conclusions, did the company you worked for just take it for granted or did they have you validate the assumptions and ensure they made economic sense? That is all I am asking is to validate the numbers and we can not even get the number of people tested in Galveston County.

We have already seen original estimates altered dramatically.

https://www.dailywire.com/news/epidemiologist-behind-highly-cited-coronavirus-model-admits-he-was-wrong-drastically-revises-model

Gary Scoggin

Mr. Woody, with all due respect, it's not simple math. In your equation X/Y=Z the problem is determining Y.

Deaths by COVID-19 lag exposure by average of about 20 days so any ratio you mortality rate you calculate is dividing apples by oranges. We can at any given time, use today's death rate to determine an approximate number of cases 20 days ago and then extrapolate that to future death rates. And in so doing you get the kinds of numbers that Bailey talks about in his post earlier today.

The math behind doing this is a bit more complicated than the long division you suggest.

With regards to your remark about the "supposed intelligent individuals" I was working with, what was your intention there? Are you suggesting otherwise without knowing their backgrounds?

Regarding how we handled these analysis in my work, it was always open to challenge. Depending on the situation it ranged from an internal peer review to presentations at industry convferences. Did we consult all the stakeholders? Sometimes but often not. What we didn't do was take the advice of people who had no idea how the math and science of our analysis worked. I hope that the people that are actually doing the work are doing the same thing.

So my question is this: Is there any death rate from a pandemic where you would sanction the measures being taken today. Instead of 2%, what if it were 10%, 40%, 70%, 90%, 100%? Is there a number and how do you determine it? If that number exists, then you must agree philosophically with the measures today. It's just that you don't think this is bad enough to reach a trigger point. What would be your basis?

Chuck DiFalco

Mr. Scoggin: "any death rate from a pandemic...100%" That's a straw man fallacy. There are no viruses with 100% mortality rates. Some relatively easily transmissible virus case fatality rates - not the same thing as mortality, because there's always some people who are immune to any given virus due to human genetic variability - approach 30% (untreated), such as smallpox. "If that [death rate] number exists, then you must agree philosophically with the measures today." This is a non-sequitur fallacy. You're going to have to do better than that.

All that said, I think there is no case fatality rate in a pandemic that would warrant America becoming a police state - with drones hunting for people outdoors (happening in Italy now), police checkpoints everywhere (something similar happened during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Gainesville, Florida in 1888).

Gary Scoggin

Also, regarding "did they have you validate the assumptions and ensure they made economic sense? " We validated the assumptions to make sure that they made scientific sense. After the science was done, then we applied the economics. Doing what you are suggesting is letting the economics determine the science. That leads to bad science and ultimately bad economics.

Bailey Jones

10 days ago I posted "COVID cases in the US are increasing exponentially - doubling every 2-3 days. In case you don't appreciate what that means, it means yesterday's 8500 cases become 1,000,000 in 2-3 weeks."

We are currently at 125K cases, and right on track for 1,000,000 cases in 9 days.

There seems to be a lot of bloviation about what "cases" means, so let's set that aside and simply look at deaths. The US death toll is currently doubling every 72 hours. This is what that looks like - if rates don't change:

today - 2200 deaths

4/1 - 4400

4/4 - 8800 (Americans are dying at the rate of one per minute)

4/7 - 17,600

4/10- 35,200

4/13 - 70,400 (an American is dying every 7 seconds)

Split the difference in the last two dates and we have 50,000 Americans dead by Easter, perhaps 1500 of those here in Galveston County. Follow the curve and that's over 1,000,000 US dead by the end of April. That's if the rates don't change. Hopefully they will.

Hopefully the efforts taken in the last two weeks will show up in the numbers this week, and the death curve will begin to flatten.

Hopefully state and city governments will keep the measures of the last 15 days in place, at least until we see some change in the curve.

Hopefully the numbers will change before our hospital system is completely overwhelmed, and rates further increase.

Hopefully we won't have to move to even stronger, and longer, measures.

This is not politics, or conspiracy, or fear mongering, it's just math. The number to watch is the number of days between doublings of the death toll. It's currently 3 days in the US. Compare that to 5-6 days in Italy and Spain. You can follow the numbers, and judge for yourself whether we're doing too much, or not enough, here - https://nssac.bii.virginia.edu/covid-19/dashboard/

Ron Woody

Mr. Jones, where are you factoring in that there was no testing for the first four weeks and there is a four week to six week backlog of testing and while the number of cases are growing exponentially so is the testing.

Once the backlog is addressed the curve/peak flattens and the 20% of those that show symptoms get tested.

You also do not account for the 80% that show few or no symptoms.

Bailey Jones

What does a testing backlog or asymptomatic cases have to do with an exponentially increasing death toll? There were 2197 US dead when I posted this morning. There are now 2497 US dead.

Chuck DiFalco

"This is not politics, or conspiracy, or fear mongering, it's just math" Two can play this rhetorical game. Here's some math:

"With another 3 million jobless claims expected next week, and with estimates that the unemployment rate could spike as high as 30% if national economic shutdowns are instituted, the potential economic devastation from these policies could potentially result in an aggregate loss of life several times higher than even worst-case scenario projections from the coronavirus. In a 1997 study published in Reflections on a National Epidemic, Dr. James Gilligan discussed the findings of an econometric model that estimated the incremental loss of life resulting to unemployment. ... Dr. Gilligan found that for every 1% rise in the national unemployment rate, there are approximately 40,000 incremental poverty and despair-related deaths over the following year in the U.S. as a result." seekingalpha.com, March 28, 2020.

"Deaths directly caused by the war (including military and civilians killed) are estimated at 50–56 million people, while there were an additional estimated 19 to 28 million deaths from war-related disease and famine." www.wikipedia.com

How the Great Depression brought Adolf Hitler to power https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2009/03/how_the_great_depression_broug.html

Chuck DiFalco

This is not fear mongering, it's asymmetric risk assessment based on historical precedent. If you don't think asymmetric risk is both a real and dangerous aspect of this epidemic, you have buried your head in the sand.

Wayne D Holt

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Chuck DiFalco

"Hopefully state and city governments will keep the measures of the last 15 days in place, at least until we see some change in the curve." --Bailey Jones

It's this kind of dangerous thinking that risks pushing American and the rest of the world into Great Depression 2.0. Regardless of any epidemiological curve anytime anywhere, the lockdowns on the majority of the people of America must be lifted before 90 days are up. That means by the end of June. We won't know if 90 days was too long or too short until a couple years from now, when it will be too late.

Bailey Jones

Based on what has happened in China, and what we are seeing in S. Korea, there's no reason to expect that we can't get people working again by the end of April - if people take it seriously and follow the program.

Bailey Jones

I don't disagree with your assessment, Chuck. But it's not a question of whether we lose lives OR ruin the economy. There is no scenario where we don't lose thousands of American lives AND have a recession. The question is the trade-off between lives lost and jobs lost. Do nothing and we have perhaps 1-2 million dead. And you still get a recession. (What is the economic impact of 25,000 Americans a week choking to death in hospital tents all across the country? Business as usual? No. Not hardly.)

Shut down the economy entirely, and you still lose thousands of lives.

What is the best way to handle this virus? You do massive amounts of testing, and quarantine those who test positive. You send them home, with pay for 2 weeks, along with everyone in their household. 98% recover, and are now (probably) immune and no longer infectious. The rest of the economy runs merrily along.

But we didn't have the capability to do that. That shipped has sailed. We're 3 months into this pandemic and we still can't test large numbers. It's reported today that the county can only test 225 people a day. So, now what? You self quarantine all "non-essential" workers and try to test everyone who either has symptoms (a small fraction of the infected) or who has been in contact with someone positive. It's not a great plan, but it's the only plan we have.

The ONLY hope for the economy is for people to comply with the social isolation policies. This is also the ONLY hope for reducing virus deaths. And the president has said (as near as I can tell), and rightly, that we're on this path until the end of April. The sooner the death rate flattens the sooner we can all get back to work. The best we can probably hope for at this point is 50,000 - 100,000 dead, and a few months long recession. But unlike the pandemic - we can see this coming, and make plans and adapt as best we can. Rather than complain, our time is better spent maximizing our efforts during this next 30 days. Whatever hope there is for the economy, and our population, lies there.

Carlos Ponce

"There is no scenario where we don't lose thousands of American lives AND have a recession."

A lesson from history, Bailey. Government Overreach in the 1930s. Herbert Hoover "signed the Revenue Act of 1932, which doubled the estate tax, hiked corporate tax rates and increased the top personal tax rate from 25 to 63 percent". This action coupled with the "dust bowl" contributed to the continuing economic downfall. FDR ran a campaign calling Hoover's actions "reckless and extravagant". The Democrat Party platform in 1932 called for “an immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures”. But once FDR and Democrats were in office government grew leading to a continued economic depression until the United States involvement and entry into World War II. If Herbert Hoover or FDR had continued Calvin Coolidge's economic policies, the economy would have recovered.

Lesson for today: One congressman called for a decrease in government spending to help offset the Coronavirus aid bill. This was derided by members on both sides of the aisle who saw an opportunity to increase spending for pet projects. Not good.

Wayne D Holt

Bailey, as someone who seems to want to get at the truth, even when we disagree I think your voice is worth hearing. With that in mind, I ask the following:

With God's grace, if come out the other side of this as a nation still intact--not a given, IMHO--what are We the People to do to put this into context? What radical changes are necessary so that politicians who idle away their time in office figuring out creative ways to enrich themselves instead of protecting the public are no longer an issue?

Millions of Americans--you're one of them, I know--have had their fill of the sort of gross incompetence and ongoing malfeasance that characterizes our political system from top to bottom.

What we see now is our chickens coming home to roost as vast swathes of the American people do not trust their government to do the right thing, the smart thing, the necessary thing. Instead, we expect the Freak Show on the Potomac to continue its shadow play of diversion while we will just wait for the next disaster to threaten everything that has made this country great.

What's the answer? I just joined the Convention of States Project to help endrun a corrupt government and force the kind of radical overhaul and return to strict constructionist principles this nation was founded on. What's your plan?

Bailey Jones

I interpret "strict constructionist principles" as limiting the federal government to its original mandate - no spending beyond what can be done with a budget of fees and tariffs. So - no standing army, no safety net, no - well basically no nothing. And, of particular relevance here, no CDC, no NIH, no FEMA, no emergency stockpiles of medical equipment, no emergency bailouts to avoid economic catastrophe, no one watching out for the next pandemic. [thumbdown][thumbdown][thumbdown]

IMHO, there is no "small government" solution to a pandemic. Unless letting it run its course is considered a solution.

My solution? It's not my job to have one. But if it was, I think the solution is staring us in the face.

1) National IT infrastructure to support working and learning at home, when required to limit the spread of disease

2) federally financed healthcare surplus - hospital beds, equipment, etc., enough to meet the needs of the next pandemic, in place, ready to use

3) federally funded biological lab and manufacturing capacity able to quickly develop and manufacture millions of testing kits, in place, ready to use

4) more funding for research and prevention of infectious disease

5) Someone in authority with no other purpose in life but to watch out for the next pandemic - something like the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense.

Bailey Jones

I think you've got it exactly backwards, Carlos. The federal government is a huge part of the economy. Every dollar the feds spend domestically goes straight into the pockets of American workers and corporations. The government should spend less during the good times, and more during the bad times. As I understand it, it was the massive spending on WWII that lifted the US out of the depression and created the infrastructure and manufacturing capacity that allowed us to gain world dominance in the decades after the war.

Carlos Ponce

History says I do not have it backwards.

Carlos Ponce

"As I understand it, it was the massive spending on WWII that lifted the US out of the depression..." Bailey Jones wants war?

Wayne D Holt

Bailey, one very significant flaw in your "no small government" logic.

We have had a very large government, a monstrously sized government, developing since the end of WWII. It grows larger, less competent and more malevolent in its actions with each passing year.

You have provided no suggestion on how we conjure up a very big government that does the right things you describe out of a very big government that verges on a police state, as we have now. It has had infinite resources, more than ample time, a political structure that is conducive to adaptation...and it has done NOTHING but prosecuted more wars, enriched more oligarchs, protected more favored industries and ignored the pleas of Americans for a system that rewarded all who just want a level playing field to compete on.

How long do we wait for our government to be returned to us? I am unwilling to wait any longer.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey, posts, " it was the massive spending on WWII that lifted the US out of the depression". WWII saw rationing, domestic production limited to the "war effort". No automobiles were made for domestic non-military use during the war. There was much construction... of military installations. A Naval Air Station in Hitchcock (Blimp Base), air field in Galveston (Scholes Field), artillery training Army base in Hitchcock (Camp Wallace), upgrade of artillery facilities on Galveston and Bolivar. With the exception of Scholes Field, not much left post war. Barracks and office buildings were sold of for re-use or torn down. Trucks, jeeps used for domestic military use were sold as surplus. Those used overseas were largely left there. The thought is that ventilators in use for Coronavirus patients today will be sold as surplus once this is over.

Bailey Jones

Carlos - always good for a laugh.

Wayne - always good for a peak into bizarro world.

We just need Ron and Chuck to weigh in and my day will be complete.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey posts, "Carlos - always good for a laugh."

There is one cost I forgot to mention, a cost of America's greatest treasure, the lives of young men and women in war. In WWII that was a loss of 405,399 American lives. Nothing to laugh at.

Bailey Jones

Obviously I'm laughing at your poor sentence diagramming skills.

Now it's even funnier.

Carlos Ponce

I never learned to diagram sentences, I taught math. In math we base everything on provable facts.

Bailey Jones

Carlos, stop it, you're killing me.[lol]

Carlos Ponce

Bailey, I'm not responsible for killing you.

Charlotte O'rourke

Bailey, thank you for a clear explanation of exponential growth and why the death rate and the time it takes to double is important to assess in infectious disease. Exponential growth leads to large numbers very quickly and will change. Hopefully, it will change to our advantage with the societal distancing currently underway.

You did a great job with the explanation.

Charlotte O'rourke

Typo wrong word choice used “death rate” .... meant death numbers or number of deaths

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