Category Archives: Politics vs. math

The person behind the mask

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The Lone Ranger

The debate over the general public wearing masks to combat the coronavirus has taken a decidedly political turn. Especially in public places like grocery stores, you could bet with good odds on which television news networks the various customers watch the most. Vice President Pence goes without a mask in public appearances, even visiting at-risk nursing homes, not because he… Read more »

Living Shirley Jackson’s story ‘The Lottery’ in real-time

Closed Iowa Counties

Note: This blog entry was first published in @LauraRBelin’s  Bleeding Heartland blog on Monday, May 4, and is re-posted here for my audience. I have updated the Iowa death chart and its explanation to include several more days of data. History since that earlier chart has been mixed. The daily growth rate in Iowa COVID-19 deaths has dropped slightly to… Read more »

The virus bullets that you don’t hear

I often live in denial as much as anybody. When I see an ant crawl across my tablet screen, I crush it and say, “Huh! I don’t like that.” But then I have to kick myself into gear to admit that it is time to go searching for more ants. A lot of people in low COVID-19-count communities and their… Read more »

Virus models and mad prophets

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“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone ever asked a prophet home for supper more than once…Most prophets went a little mad before they were through, if they weren’t a little mad to begin with.” — Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking. Novelist/theologian Frederick Buechner was talking about the Old Testament guys, but mathematical models and their purveyors have some of… Read more »

Learning some “Disaster Math” lessons

Boy's Town

I would hope that the one major lesson that rich Americans and the business community learn from this coronavirus crisis is that all of the wealth you have ever earned and socked away is only as secure as the health and safety of ALL Americans, indeed the health of the entire world. Trillions of dollars of corporate value and retirement… Read more »

Risk, hazard and mitigation with coronavirus

There is nothing more galling than learning that you had been exposed to the coronavirus weeks ago and nobody bothered to tell you (my experience today). Oh, yeah, there is, which is being exposed to this virus every day on the front lines for healthcare and customer service workers, yet being unable to get tested unless you are deathly ill…. Read more »

The misleading math of rural Coronavirus

Iowa Coronavirus growth

(Note: This post has been updated from a version previously published on April 12 at Bleeding Heartland.) Fifty-one cases of COVID-19 come out of one rural nursing home in northern Florida. A funeral in a small Georgia town is a key source for 150 cases of COVID-19 and eleven deaths. And then in Iowa on April 13, comes this announcement… Read more »

Update: The missing Coronavirus tests

No symptoms - no test

Two weeks ago, I posted some data that I have been tracking to try to get a handle on the actual case fatality rate (CFR) of COVID-19, as well as trying to estimate the untested, unknown virus-positive population out there. This is an update with some interesting trends and new data, as well as my take on why the “missing… Read more »

Lifeboat ethics #2 – Ventilators and PPE

Pittsburgh Triage

It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only near the beginning of March that I wrote a post about the literal application of lifeboat ethics that was being forced onto passengers on two cruise ships denied docking privileges to offload passengers still uninfected by the Coronavirus. At that point, only nineteen people had died of COVID-19 in the… Read more »