Indiana is still trying to scare its people

The ISDH website which I have bitched about for weeks is finally reporting tests at the county level, but is still not reporting recoveries.  I continue to maintain that it cannot be that difficult to report the number of recoveries of people who were hospitalized with cases of WuFlu.  You know they came into the hospital, you know they left the hospital.  Raw numbers like that which do not identify anyone are not protected by HIPAA.

So let’s look at Marion County.  As of now, the page reports

5,295 Positive cases

305 Deaths

24,000 Total tested

OK.  So roughly (very roughly) for every 5 tests, they’ve had 1 positive case.  And that number has got to be incorrect, because it does not take into account the fact that until just a couple of weeks ago, practically nobody was getting tested.  (When I wrote my original “Bullshit.” post, 25 days ago, only 19,800 had been tested STATEWIDE.)  So many of the positive cases probably can’t be counted among the total tested.  Unless they can, and this is the problem with numbers thrown out to the public without any explanation of how they were derived.

So let’s look at the statewide totals, since I have them handy from April 4 (25 days ago) and we can do some comparisons.

Statewide COVID-19 Totals from ISDH
Date Total Positive Cases Total Deaths Total Tested
April 4 3,953 116 19,800
April 29 17,182 984 91,550

In 25 days — three weeks and four days — the number of positive cases has (roughly) quadrupled.  The number of deaths (which remain nearly negligible from a statistical point of view) have increased 8.5 times.  The total number of those tested has increased just over 4.6 times.

But what’s still missing?

Yep.  How many of those 16,198 positive cases where the patient didn’t die (or hasn’t yet died) have resolved into recovery?

The state doesn’t want to tell us.  It’s not that they don’t know the number, or don’t have a feel for it, it’s that it doesn’t help the Governor’s narrative that he wants to keep the state shut down for at least another week into May.

And let’s face it — we were told there would be a lot more deaths than we’ve seen so far, even with the curve flattening.

Testing is beginning to show that the Governor is full of shit about the spread.  Only 18.8% of those tested so far have had the virus.  (24,000 of those tested are in Marion County, BTW.  That’s 26.2% of the statewide total, and makes sense because Marion County is the largest population center in the state.)  And there’s another statistic I’d like to know — how many of those tested had the virus but remained asymptomatic and simply had to stay home for two weeks in self-quarantine?

If you add the “doughnut counties” — the eight counties surrounding Marion County, in other words, the “Indianapolis Metropolitan Area” — you find another 18,003 total tests, which is another 19.6% of the statewide total.  So 26.2+19.6 = 45.8%, or pretty damn close to half the tests in the entire state.

Adding up all the positive cases reported in the 9-county metro area, you get 8,404, or 48.9% of the statewide total.

Adding up all the deaths in the 9-county metro area, you get 964, or 57.4% of the statewide total.

Bottom line, half the problem is in 9 of the 92 counties in the state.  And the problem is not statistically massive.  Using again the number for statewide population that I pulled on April 4, 6,692,000, the percentages as of today (29 Apr 2020) are like this:

Indiana COVID-19 Totals as Percentage of Total State Population, 29 Apr 2020
State population (est. 2017) 6,692,000
Total reported cases in the population 0.257%
Total deaths in the population 0.014%
Total tested in the population 1.368%

We are still being coddled by our All Wise And Powerful Governor for something that has barely ticked over a quarter of a percentage point of the population, and hasn’t killed but 14 thousandths of a percent of the population.  And only ~1.4% of the population has even been tested, but that’s still 7 times more than have been tested and are positive. (Numbers corrected slightly on 30 Apr 2020; percentage of total tested was misstated in the table but stated correctly in this paragraph.)

We are being lied to.

Despite the “lockdown” orders, and the fact that many businesses are closed and may not be able to come back after this, there are still a gazillion cars on the roads, stores that are open are still as full of people as social distancing can get them, people are out walking and biking and probably congregating in the parks for all I know, and it just doesn’t look to me like the “lockdown” orders are responsible for the “flattening of the curve”.

The scary metrics on the ISDH page are only scary if you don’t know what they really mean.  Put those graphs into perspective, remembering that there are over 6,000 times more people in the state than the range on the “Statewide Positive Cases By Day” graph, which goes only to 1000 cases on the left-hand scale.  If the left-hand scale went to 6.7 million, and showed the proportion of daily positive cases against the total state population, you wouldn’t be able to see the peaks and valleys…it would look like a flat line starting March 6 and extending to April 29.

For the families of those suffering from the virus, and for the families of those who have died in some way connected to the virus (since the virus itself is rarely going to be the proximate cause of death — usually it will be heart attack, stroke, nervous system collapse, asphyxiation from the pneumonia-like symptoms, all “complicated by the COVID-19 virus”), this is a terrible time.  You’ve got someone in your family who is very, very sick, or in fact has died because they contracted the virus and probably made a pre-existing condition worse.  It would be heartless to say I don’t care about that, because I do care about that.

But in the end, we have to care about the people who are living.  Why do funeral processions yield to bridal processions?  Because the living are more important than the dead.

And it’s time to start living again.  There are tests; there are treatments; and yes, there will still be some who die because of the virus.

That’s life.  And some who are riding high in April will be (metaphorically) shot down in May.

That’s how the dice roll in this crazy game we call life.

Mr. Holcomb, tear down your orders.  It’s time to go back to work and back to living.  And some, maybe most, of us, are going to do that starting May 1 whether you like it or not.

30 Apr 2020: Edited slightly to place total population percentages in an easier-to-read table. Also captioned the “Statewide COVID-19 Totals from ISDH” table to make it obvious what data the table contained.