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Drowning in Coronavirus Research, Part 98

By September 26, 2020Commentary

The coronavirus briefing yesterday had a somber tone.  Staff conducting CV-19 surveys have run into hostility in the outstate, including apparently some racial harassment, which if true, is unforgivable and hard to understand in our current environment.  I obviously understand people being upset about the state’s CV-19 response, but verbally harassing or physically intimidating people who are just trying to do their job, especially if it is racially tinged, is not acceptable behavior.  Update.  At least one of the places supposedly involved has issued a detailed explanation of the encounter.  Sound pretty standard.  Doesn’t mean there isn’t a racial component to the reaction at times, but we all need to be careful about getting the facts.  Just shows that the state and the media may want to get the whole story before dumping on a specific area, unless of course they want to make it sound bad for political reasons–nah, they wouldn’t do that.  (Eitzen Statement)

The state attempted to explain the changes to the hospitalization numbers again, apparently I am not the only one who found that change baffling.  All they had to do was continue to provide the daily census numbers and I think we would have been fine.  A reporter asked a question about why on the border of North Dakota, the Minnesota counties have higher case numbers than the North Dakota ones.  Chris first tried to turn it into us being concerned about high case levels in neighboring states, but when pressed on the follow-up, devolved into evasion and blaming universities.  I have a better suggestion, states like North Dakota, with a lighter suppression effort and no mask mandate do better because those tactics (meaning lockdowns and mandating masks) may actually encourage spread.  The state should not be so dismissive of a very legitimate question like that, one that deserves some serious research–why would case levels be so different in a geographic area that crosses borders–the virus doesn’t know what a state border is.

The Star Tribune had a headline blaring about how transmission is deemed uncontrolled in the state.  Buried in the story was the fact that this status change is just a designation from a non-governmental group which has an ideological bent and appears to generally support the lockdown forever approach.  Here is your hint on this–Andy Slavitt is on the Board of Directors of the group.   Just another attempt to extend the hysteria and panic and terrorification campaign.  Our testing and cases data is so goofy that it is about impossible to normalize cases against testing.  So I don’t know what conclusions can be drawn about spread in Minnesota.  Hospitalizations as a percent of cases appear to be continuing a slow decline, so certainly the seriousness of cases isn’t rising.

And in a couple of final political notes, we had two governors test positive this week, one who opposes mask mandates and one who is a mask nut.  So masks make a big difference again, and guess which Governor’s infection got more attention.  And next door to us, the intelligence-challenged Governor of Wisconsin demonstrated complete ignorance about what exponential spread may mean.  Might want to brush up on your math.  Wisconsin has a strong rise in cases at Universities, which in all honesty is a big so what.  They should encourage the college students to stay on campus, party, do whatever they want, but keep it on campus, and not worry about even testing them.  We have to stop acting like a CV-19 infection is a death sentence.

It is hard for me to express how angry I am about what we are doing to children.  It is inexcusable.  They are safer from CV-19 than they are from many other things, including suicide.  Just in one hospital, suicides and suicide attempts by children have seen a dramatic increase.   (Suicides Story)   How many children have to commit suicide before public officials let them go back to a normal educational and social experience?

A meta-review in Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics examines the likelihood of children being infected.  (JAMA Article)   A total of 32 studies were included, including 18 contact tracing ones and 14 population screening papers.  Children had only about 60% of the likelihood of being infected that adults did.  The definition was younger than 20.  If you looked at the youngest cohort, the likelihood would be even lower.  The tracing studies that focussed on the question found limited transmission from school children or teachers.  The seroprevalence studies suggested lower prevalence in younger children, with those 14 and over having similar rates to adults.

Here is an interesting study that looks at antibody prevalence among dialysis patients.  (Lancet Article)  Samples from over 28,000 patients from July were tested.  Prevalence was 9.3% when standardized to US demographics.  It was highest in the Northeast and lower in the West.  Detected infections would be only about 9% of all infections according to this survey.  Remarkable how constant that percent has been, in the 10% neighborhood.  If that is right, we are at over 70 million infections in the US.  While dialysis patients are obviously sicker than the general population and may be more susceptible to CV-19, they also tend to have far fewer contacts and to be more cautious.  So the survey could be fairly representative.

Qatar has a large imported work force that tends to live in densely populated areas.  A prevalence survey there found high rates of CV-19 infection.  (Medrxiv Paper)   In ten of these residential areas, prevalence ranged from 55% to 88%.  Current infection rate was around 4%, using a relatively high median cycle number.  These are primarily young to middle-aged men and they had almost exclusively asymptomatic infections.  The results are a caution to the believe that spread stops when infection levels reach a lower percent of the population, at around 20% or 30%.  But this group lived in sustained close contact so high transmission rates could continue even when a substantial part of the population had already been infected.  And what matters may not be whether or not transmission occurs but how quickly and easily a person suppresses the virus, which would limit transmission.

And in Germany at least one public official has a conscience and an ability to look at things in a balanced way, acknowledging that lockdowns will kill far more people than CV-19.  (ZH Story)


Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • SR says:

    Officials in the city of Eitzen MN disputed MDH’s characterization of what occurred in a statement. It seems that even with this MDH is warping things to fit it’s predetermined narrative.

  • Ellen says:

    “It is hard for me to express how angry I am about what we are doing to children.” — Hard for me too.

  • SteveD says:

    ‘I have a better suggestion, states like North Dakota, with a lighter suppression effort and no mask mandate do better because those tactics may actually encourage spread.’

    Do you mean ‘discourage’ spread?

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