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calendar   Tuesday - April 14, 2020

Just another Tuesday in lockdown: Running the numbers

Yes, I’m still here. And we’re both fine, thanks, as the coronavirus “rages” around us.

I’ve been tracking the numbers for my county for a week now, and I can’t really draw any conclusions. I’m not seeing any real correlation between population density and the number of COVID cases. But I know that the data I have has holes in it; missing pieces. Large ones.

Hunterdon County NJ is on the very outer edge of the NY Metro suburban area. More than half this county is farms, forests, and lakes. It’s not a very big county, 427 square miles, but we do have 1/8 million people living here. 292 people per square mile on average. Compared to most of the rest of New Jersey, this county is empty.

Hunterdon does have pocket populations though. Several tiny little areas with relatively large numbers of folks. I’m living in one of the “large” pockets, with probably 900 neighbors on this 20 acre parcel. And we have “regular” suburbia in the neighborhood around us. And the COVID numbers in our township are the highest in the county, with a “frightening” 0.724% infection rate, compared to the county average of 0.271%. That 0.724% means nearly 7 1/4 cases per 1000 people. PANIC !!! LOCKDOWN !!! Quiver in place !!!!

OTOH, I’m seeing a 35% growth rate in a 4 day window for the whole county, which is quite below what I’d call a pandemic infection rate. So maybe this social isolation stuff is working. Or maybe the whole concept falls apart when the overall numbers are small; we’re certainly below the 3 day doubling rate I’ve read about in other places, and we’re probably also below the percentages for those areas.

OTTH, I do not know the testing rate for my county or for any of the areas within it. I’m sure that such data exists, but the best I can locate are the numbers for the entire state. Sure, I think it’s great that our bi-county area is setting up a drive-thru testing center at the community college, but you can’t just go. You have to have a prescription, which means you have to be sick enough that you’ve contacted your doctor, and “passed” your virtual office visit with enough of the COVID symptoms boxes checked off.

There is no routine public testing going on here, nor anywhere else in the whole country. So we’ll never know how many of us are asymptomatic carriers, or have had the bug, not even noticed it, and already recovered. And with overwhelmed health workers giving people but a single test (type unknown!) we’ll never have hard good numbers with a low rate of false positives.

And certainly nobody at Big Brother is going to hand out the HCQ like Halloween candy to the general population as a preventative or as a cure for those only lightly symptomatic. We’d need a huge number of pills for that. 350 million people, 2 pills a day for 5 weeks (to cover the incubation period and the average recovery period) ... that’s 3.5 billion pills, minimum. But that would stop the virus dead in it’s tracks. And also cut our malaria rate down to nothing.

So about the only thing I can pull from my numbers is that the infection rate isn’t all that much, and the odds of me even seeing an infected person in public are way less than 1 in 100. And I don’t think I’ve seen 100 people total in the past 2 weeks.

So I’m going to mask up and get some Chinese take out for lunch.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/14/2020 at 11:15 AM   
Filed Under: • Pandemic Pandemonium •  
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