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calendar   Tuesday - May 19, 2020

More COVID Stuff: Trying To Fix The Numbers

Drewlock Holmes, COVID detective

Another Update: I’m sure it’s merely anecdotal coincidental, but NJ is suddenly listing LTC cases for both residents and staff. OTOH, those 80 missing LTC cases are still missing at the county level. Guess they’re under long term investigation.

I’m sure you’ve seen endless posts and news articles about the oddness involved in counting the cases and the deaths for this virus. Is it political, is it due to panic, profit, general ineptness, or what? I don’t want to speak to that today, but I am trying to do something to get my local numbers squared away.

New Jersey has a very well done COVID dashboard that is updated daily. My county of Hunterdon also has one. The numbers and graphs shown on these directly influence the governor’s willingness to re-open the state, so the more accurate those numbers are the better decisions he can make ... and that’s all I’m going to say about that commie Trump hating Leftist as well.

New Jersey is an odd place in many ways, and the political lines drawn on the maps for our concept of self-rule reflect that. We have counties, cities, towns, townships, and boroughs. Layers of layers. It can be a bit confusing, especially when there are also unicorporated areas. Pittstown is one of those areas, not really in any of the 3 townships that border it. But the county and state governments have to list Pittstown’s COVID numbers somewhere, although it seems some of them may have been lost. Which is typical of Pittstown:

image

Generally listed as being in Franklin Township, Pittstown sits astride Pittstown Road, by the intersection with Bloomsbury Road. Both roads are the borders between the three township lines that meet there; Union, Alexandria, and Franklin Townships. On the other side of the road from the barn pictured above is the Pittstown Inn, a colonial era place now called The Grill At Pittstown. 2 1/2 miles north up Pittsown Road there is a Long Term Care center, with 80 active cases for their 120 residents, on the west side of Pittstown Road, north of Bloomsbury Road. That means it is in Union Township. New Jersey lists the COVID LTC cases there as being part of Franklin Township. Which is convenient with accepted practice for PittstownI suppose.

The problem is, these 80 cases are not reflected in the county daily numbers for Union, Alexandria, or Franklin Townships. It may look like they are refeclected in the 181 cases here in Union Township, but know that 161 of those are at the growth center for the developmentally challenged. It certainly doesn’t show up in the 10 cases listed for Alexandria Township, nor the 13 cases listed for Franklin Township. Where’d they go?

And as far as I can tell, the state gets their numbers from the counties, who collect it all either from the township governments or directly from the sources. So how can the county and state numbers not jibe? Shennanigans or mere oversight?

I can’t do much of anything about pushing for honest numbers at the national or state level, other than some fiery posts here on this blog. But I’ve written my county health executive about this twice now, politely pointing out the anamoly and asking specifically which township gets the Pittstown numbers, while mentioning that NJ may have the wrong township associated with this facility. And that’s about the most a citizen can do. Hold their toes to the fire by asking polite questions in a civil manner. So far they haven’t answered me, or changed any of the data. But I’m trying.

Update: You Catch More Flies With Honey ...
I heard back from the county; they’re working on it ... sure they are ...

Hi Drew,
Thank you for sending us your question.
We noticed this error too, and have been working to correct it with the New Jersey Department of Health. Please keep in mind that sometimes cases get added and removed here and there as we conduct case investigations so that can also contribute to number discrepancies.

Kind regards,

Janis R. Clark RN BSN
Hunterdon County Health Department
Preparedness Division Supervisor
Public Health Nurse

~~~~

Ms Clark

Thanks for your response. With so many data sources to collate, I’m sure that one or two will slip through the cracks once in a while. And I know that Pittstown is generally considered to be in Franklin Township even though parts of it are actually in all three townships.

The LTC situation is upsetting for me, even though I know noone in any of these places. I have no idea what can be done to help there short of absolute quarantine, and that would only help the rest of us. While the residents aren’t out in public, the staff is, and the infection rate at these centers is so severe I fear that it would be all too easy for them to become super spreaders. But forcing them to stay on site is akin to house arrest, approaching martial law. I can see “the needs of the many” but I also feel that we’ve lost far too many freedoms already because of this pandemic. Good luck with finding the right balance point in a solution.

I also realize that just suddenly tacking on an additional 80 cases to some township without explaination could scare the daylights out of people. This is why I feel that the daily numbers document from the county might be better if it had additional columns for LTC and Recovered, with a short sentance at the top that these are cumulative numbers, and perhaps a caveat about investigations and adjustments. OTOH, I may be the rare person who actually reads and studies that paper and then cross-references it against the state’s daily publications. Most of the people I’ve talked to are nearly oblivious to this whole situation, even though they’re severely impacted by it every day.

Drew

I think this is a much better approach than those nasty rabid comments so many people leave on the news sites and blog posts. She did respond to that last response of mine, but it was mostly pablum. “we’re isolating patients in wings, and not letting them comingle and they must wear masks and eat alone” kind of thing. Wonderful, because old granny in the home wants nothing more than to be isolated and alone AND sick 24-7.

I think we need to seriously re-think the entire nursing home thing all across the country. This is a horrible fiasco. Nearly half the COVID deaths in New Jersey are happening in LTC, along with 1/5 of the cases. From a miniscule slice of the population.

[ Pittstown is yet another place named in honor of Willaim Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham. So is Chatham NJ, Pittsburgh PA, and any number of other places. He was a member of Parliament in the mid 1700’s who was very popular with the American colonists. He firmly believed in liberty, equality, self rule, fair tazes, representation, etc, and did everything he could to defuse the political situations that lead to the revolution. He was cherised over here, but not so popular over there. Until he was dead. He’s buried in Westminster Abbey. His son William followed his legacy and became one of the greatest Prime Ministers in British history. ]


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/19/2020 at 12:55 PM   
Filed Under: • pandemic and epidemic diseases •  
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