Current Affairs

COVID-19: Testing Accuracy Information

Every week or so there is new bad information about COVID-19.

Quite frankly it is annoying.

For the past few weeks there has been a lot of people shouting about testing accuracy. People seem to think that all the tests only have a 75% or less accuracy.

The reality is that there are two kinds of tests that give you two different pieces of information and each test has significantly different accuracy.

One test is an antibody test which tells you if you’ve _had_ the disease. This test has ~<75% accuracy.

The other test is a diagnostic test which says if you currently have the disease. All the diagnostic tests used in the US have over a 90% accuracy, with the exception of one which has a specialized use case which I don’t understand.

It’s also important to note that the majority of testing in the US is diagnostic tests. So if you here that 3 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 then the worst case is that there were really only 2.7 million people.

Current Affairs

Corporations (probably) didn’t do it

The era of “blame everything on corporations because they won’t respond” is coming to an end.

Thank god.

The logical fallacies that politicians and constituents would continue to parrot has been one of the more annoying things to listen to.

Corporations speaking out loud is good not because “oh wow they got him”, but because now it will begin to force a real dialog instead of just letting them be a political punching bag.

Maybe now real progress can be made.

Current Affairs

COVID-19: Is NJ Doubling Rate Really Getting Better?

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has been touting the rate of doubling increasing in every county in NJ. This is a good thing to see, but the data is still so garbage that there is no way to tell if it is real.

The problem is that while the number of positive cases has increased our number of tests have remained stagnant.

Look, the math is simple.

If you do 100 tests today and 40 come back positive you have 40 cases. If you do another 100 tomorrow and another 40 come back positive then you have a 100% increase. Oh no! We have a doubling rate of 1 day!

But the good news is that in two days well do another 100 tests of which 40 will come back positive, but our rate of doubling will now have dropped to only 50% and a doubling rate of 2 days.

Wait until you see what happens on the 4th day! 🙄

If you look at the state totals for the past several days you’ll see that regardless of how many tests we run we are always about 40 to 50 percent positive. Without further explanation for why we have such varying numbers of total tests across the state (are they shifting resources, is it different demands) and without knowing if the tests are being processed sequentially I’m left to assume that we are under testing. Significantly.

Please let me know if you think I’ve missed some news that would help fill in these gaps. I would love to believe that our doubling rate really is lowering, but I’m just not convinced by the available data.

Current Affairs

Trump 2020: Reasons For / Against

I think the case for Trump 2020 is the exact same case against Trump 2020: He is a terrible leader.

Those for him think that the executive branch has too much power and our daily lives are too dependent on one person elected by the masses being on point.

Those against him think he’s a terrible leader that will cause the collapse of the US as we know it and unnecessarily put peoples lives in danger moving us and the world back decades.

There are also those who are just strict Ds or Rs or single/few issue voters. They either don’t think he’s a bad leader or don’t care. But in a world where the vote is almost always 50/50 it’s more important to focus on the independent/swing voter mentality.

Current Affairs

Scarves Vs. Masks

The President has mentioned a few times that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to cover your face with a scarf. I also think I recall watching him say that it may be better than a mask because they’re thicker.

Which got me wonder: Would a scarf be better than a mask? We don’t have any official scientific guidelines on this, so we’re really left to our own deductive reasoning to figure it out.

After a few minutes of thought I decided the answer must be ‘no’. But why is the answer ‘no’? Because in order for it to be ‘yes’ one of two things would have to be true:

  1. Doctors are choosing to wear scarves instead of masks
  2. There is a bigger shortage of scarves than masks

Now, all that being said, I do still believe a scarf is better than nothing. If you don’t have a mask you should really cover your face with anything you can.

Current Affairs

COVID-19: NJ, How you doin?

So I’ve been tracking NJ COVID-19 trends for the past week (here):

Information has been sparse so I figured I’d try collecting some data to get an idea of what’s going on. The spreadsheet also includes breakdowns per region (North, Central, South) and per county, which I think is important.

Ultimately I found out the spreadsheet can’t tell you anything that you haven’t already heard because we simply don’t have enough data. Hopefully though, as we get data, it’ll show a clear and early trend.

We’re missing data on things like hospitalizations, ICU patients, and number of tests per county/region.

Those are all important to know so we can get an understanding for the rate and severity of growth in different areas. Additionally, I found out during todays press conference that the tests are taking 7-10 days to be processed. So the data we see today is only reflective of last week. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My main worries are:

  1. We have no data to show if our actions have been helping and policies seem to be made on best guesses
  2. Large numbers are masking small numbers that will continue this pandemic if not identified
  3. Number of tests have plateaued and the number of positives may catch up to our total capacity

It’s really hard to look at this data (or lack thereof) and be positive, but I do have a positive outlook.

Even though the data is missing it’s easy to see that things are being done today that will have a positive impact and I think that trend will continue.

Like everyone else I accept that this is bad and I’m just hoping that it isn’t as bad as it could be.