UPDATE, 13 Apr 2020:  The site has been updated with many new statistics, but…still no statistic for how many of the previously-reported positive cases have recovered.  So I continue to say the site is bullshit.

UPDATED 6 Apr 2020 — scroll down for the update.

This site is bullshit:  ISDH – Novel Coronavirus

It’s bullshit because our fear-mongering state government is itself panicking because Hoosiers are more and more starting to think the constantly-expanding stay-at-home orders are based on little more than the state government’s desire to smash its fascist boot repeatedly into the face of its citizens.  Did I say, “citizens”?  Perhaps I meant “servants”.  Because we’re being treated like serfs and children.

It’s bullshit because nowhere on that page is there a statistic indicating how many of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 (the “Chinese Virus”) are now in recovery or who were and remain asymptomatic.  How many of the 3,953 positive cases (at the moment) represent:

  • People who are currently under hospital care for COVID-19?
  • People who were tested positive but have remained asymptomatic for at least two weeks?
  • People who were hospitalized and/or treated at home for mild cases of COVID-19 and have since recovered?

The implication you are left with by this page is that ALL of the 3,953 positive cases are hospitalized.  Because it doesn’t say otherwise, and one simply assumes the worst.  The fact is, it is unlikely that all of those positive cases are under treatment.  (Well, 116 of them have died, but even there you don’t know if COVID-19 was the primary cause of death, or if the patient was already so far gone with other medical problems that COVID-19 simply tipped the balance.)

By the way — I don’t think HIPAA covers any of this information.  It’s generic numbers, it’s not personal information.  So please don’t insult our intelligence by standing behind HIPAA or other privacy concerns.  We have a right to know these statistics.

One interesting statistic provided by the page is that there have been 19,800 people tested in the state.  One must assume that this, taken with the other stats on the page, means 15,847 of them tested negative for COVID-19.

Moreover, let’s pull a number out of the air — the population of the State of Indiana, which is estimated to have been 6.692 million in 2018.  What is 3,953 ÷ 6,692,000?  It’s 0.059 percent.  Yes, that’s just under SIX HUNDREDTHS OF A PERCENT.  Or if you are still having trouble visualizing it, it’s just under SIX PEOPLE OUT OF TEN THOUSAND.  My graduating class in high school numbered 1,103 souls.  That’s not even one person out of my entire graduating class.

That means if you walk into a gathering of 100 random people, it’s damn likely none of them are COVID-19 positive.  Of course, that’s not a given; it’s more likely in a densely-populated area like Indianapolis, less likely in a thinly-populated area like some of our rural counties.  And even then you don’t know if some rando didn’t infect half the county by simply showing up at the county courthouse one day, or buying gas at the local convenience store while passing through.

But the point is, it’s still rare.  It’s even rare in Indianapolis. 1,570 people out of 950,082 (2017 estimate) is about 0.17 percent. Round it up, it’s 2 out of a thousand.  So we’re up to two people out of my graduating class.

And the number of deaths, state-wide, is only 116.  That’s 0.000017 percent.  Less than two hundred-thousandths of a percent.  Less than two out of a hundred thousand.

When I go out on the roads, which I’ve done several times over the last few days, I notice there’s a lot less traffic — but that’s not to say there’s NO traffic.  And parking lots at places like grocery stores are still pretty full.  Drug stores not so much.  There was a line outside Trader Joe’s this morning, as they are apparently allowing only x number of people in the store at a time.  I gather other stores are doing the same, including big-box hardwares.

But still.  There’s plenty of opportunity for the coronavirus to spread.  When I went to the post office the other day, I could barely keep out of other people’s way.  Yesterday wasn’t as bad, but it was still difficult in that little lobby to stay six feet away from others entering and leaving.  And I’m sure there are other places where the same problem obtains.  And they are all places that really can’t be closed down or we’ll grind the country to a standstill.  Well, more of a standstill than it’s already been ground down to, I guess.

And yet, the numbers aren’t really getting all that much higher.  I’m sure our governor will puff out his chest and point at the low infection rate as proof that his “stay-at-home” order works, and should be extended to April 30, but what if we’ve peaked?  What if there are more asymptomatic cases than we’re aware of?  What if a bunch of us already had the “mild” version of COVID-19 earlier on (since after all, it’s been running rampant in China since at least October 2019, with no attempt by the Chicoms to restrict travel to the US and the rest of the world from the region hardest hit) and recovered from it, so we already have antibodies in our systems that could help our bodies fight off the nasty one?  (Of course, we can’t get tested, because we’re healthy.)

What if the damn thing has mutated again and isn’t as infectious as it was?

But that’s why I’d like to see the recovery numbers on that ISDH page.  There’s no damn way there are over 3,800 people still hospitalized in Indiana with this virus.  We’ve been tracking cases since the first reported case on March 6.  I want to know how many have recovered and gone home, and I want the same demographics charts run for recoveries as they’re running for positive cases and deaths.

Really, though, until everyone in the state has been tested (or at least much bigger group than the one that’s already been tested), there’s no way we’re ever going to know what the real chances are of contracting the virus.

So come clean, Governor.  When are you going to give us all the information, drop your stay-at-home order back to “those who have tested positive must quarantine for 14 days” (which is what was done during the Spanish Flu and most other epidemics we’ve faced in the last hundred-odd years), and let us get back to work (and putting the economy that you and other governors have practically ruined back together)?

Till you do, you can take your “stay-at-home” order and stuff it.  Everything I do outside the home is essential — to ME.

UPDATE, 6 Apr 2020:  Television Station WANE in Fort Wayne asked the same question about recoveries on Friday.  Here’s the answer they came up with:

Well, those numbers are not readily available because tracking recoveries is difficult, it turns out.

  • The only way we know about recovered cases right now is if the patient was released from the hospital and goes public that they are recovered.
  • Lots of people will get the virus without being hospitalized and without getting tested. Their recovery will not likely be documented.

Sorry, I still don’t buy it.  The first bullet point is bogus.  If they can be counted on the way in, they can be counted on the way out — whether they go out upright or on their backs.  Both incoming and outgoing counts are a public health statistic, and HIPAA can’t be invoked to hide it.  Hospitals should be reporting recoveries to ISDH just like they report positive cases.  If they’re letting people out to go home without any reporting at all to ISDH, e.g., for later followup by ISDH, that’s criminal negligence at this point.

The second bullet point is entirely non-germane to the subject, which is how many REPORTED cases are in recovery.  By definition, if you had the virus but were asymptomatic or only got the sniffles and it went away, and you were never tested, then OF COURSE you weren’t reported.  So you AREN’T one of the 3,953 (now 4,944) positive cases reported on the ISDH page and you are not someone with whom I am concerned.

I want to know how many of the reported positive cases have recovered.  Period.  And ISDH is not providing those numbers.  That is a violation of the public’s right to know, and it makes it impossible to run real statistics about how many hospital beds are in use for COVID-19 cases, for instance.

All the suppression of recovery data does is fan the flames of panic, and makes the state appear to be hiding something.  That’s not a good look, Governor Holcomb.