The US is operating with appallingly poor Covid data thanks in no small measure to officials at every level of government acting as if managing PR in a pandemic is more important than managing public health. We have the CDC in an act of what ought to be criminal negligence refusing to track “breakthrough” cases among the vaccinated. That means that clinicians and scientists are now playing blind man and the elephant, groping with their information and trying to guess how representative it is.
GM, by e-mail, points out we are in a similar spot with Covid death reporting, albeit for different reasons:
During the winter wave, some states failed to even keep track of the death count. For example, Ohio had a very suspiciously low deaths for several months, then just dumped 6-7K deaths and got in line with the average. But it was far from alone, there were big data dumps in February and March from several other states (e.g. VA and NM), and to this day the death counts are highly suspicious in UT, KY, OK, and a few others. Florida at some point last year was often reporting deaths months after they happened, and I don’t imagine that having improved much, etc.
But right now, with states scaling back reporting, it is a total mess. With today’s 130K cases, we should see 2K deaths a day at some point, and there is a delay of 3-4 weeks between cases and deaths, and deaths are going up, but not as fast as perhaps expected, and one can’t figure out at all how much of that is the vaccine effect and how much it is just the lack of reporting.
I was reading about morgue capacity in some SW MO hospitals being exceeded, but meanwhile MO seems to have just stopped reporting deaths altogether — they post single-digit numbers retoractively, but it’s been more than a month of rising cases now, and it is not reflected in the death count, which certainly does not match the reports from the hospitals either. Meanwhile in neighboring AR they seem to be reporting more accurately and deaths are up massively.
And that sort of thing is happening in lots of places. Complete mess and very hard to figure out what the real situation is exactly.
P.S. Today Psaki has said that there is “no going back”, i.e. everything will remain fully open and kids will be herded into schools. And there was this video from Miguel Cardona that just makes you want to throw stuff at the wall in rage:
“Across the country there’s an excitement for the first day or school … and those of you that have children know what I’m talking about. There’s a vibe about going back to school … and this year is no exception.”
Thirty seconds into this and I am seething. pic.twitter.com/k80A6JEbCZ
— Joe Friday (@justthefacts85) August 6, 2021
At this point it is a serious question which administration did worse with its COVID response. Some of the things that are being said and done now in terms of denial of what is happening I have hard time imagining last year, as there would have been serious backlash, but now there is none…
Lambert suggested trying to track increased refrigerator truck rentals as a proxy for a Covid death surge, but the upticks would be too small and local to register even in regional data. But if anyone knows truckers or facility managers in that business, they could be sources of information about sudden demand from a city or a hospital system.
The fact that we are even having to think of finding crude signals is yet more evidence of how terrible our Covid response continues to be.