Models, Math, and Facts on the Ground

By Erick Erickson

First, please note that while parts of the press seem somewhat celebratory that the United States now has passed China in numbers of COVID-19 infections, the reality is China lies about its numbers. Look no further than China reinstituting a ban on movie theaters. A country that was doing okay would not be doing that.

Second, as of this writing there are just under 105,000 cases in this country. The sourcing is here and for a nation of 327 million people, that means only .03% of the population is affected. Those, however, are known cases and the odds are more people have it.

Third, the problem is that though .03% of the population has it, it is overwhelming hospitals in places like Albany, GA, a city of around 100,000 people and New York City, a city of 8.6 million people. It is also starting to overwhelm hospitals in other areas, like Atlanta and New Orleans.

So What About the Modeling

Did you ever watch that show with the guy Johnathan Edward who would claim to talk to dead people? He seemingly would give very precise information, but upon reflection, it really wasn’t. He would pull in information gathered and use it to make people feel like they were having an experience. And they had that experience with him, but they did not really have an experience with a dead person.

The people heaping scorn on the epidemiologists and others are kind of like that. They’re cherrypicking information, mashing it together with reality, and deciding therefore they’ve debunked all the experts. It certainly makes them feel smarter than everyone else, but it does not mean they’re right.

Dr. Ferguson, who led the model on the COVID-19 spread, explained that his initial numbers were so high because the modelers treated the virus as the seasonal flu — what would happen if we let it spread like the flu, but without a vaccine.

And guess what? One person can infect up to three other people and the basic numbers are pretty easy.

Well, we know now that reality is different from the models. We are not seeing massive deaths and runaway infections.

Was the model wrong?

No.

What happened is we responded. We stopped hanging out together. The input to the models was if we did not change our behaviors. As Ferguson and others have pointed out, if you put in what would happen if we socially distanced, you get different numbers — you get numbers like what we are seeing. The models would not be worth it if they did not change based on reality.

Hospitals in some parts of the country are overwhelmed. But the good news is we are going to be fine. There are exceptions, however. In New York, the models underestimated the rate of hospitalization. New York is seeing far more people in hospitals than what the very aggressive models predicted.

That’s very troubling. But please, let’s put the New York situation into context. Lots of people are blaming the President. I put together this video to give you more context.

 

By the way, contrast the epidemiological models to the global warming models. I’m old enough to remember all the models saying New York would be underwater, etc. I am totally willing to understand why people are skeptical of modeling. The environmental movement has refused to update over time their nightmare scenarios, which even now say we’re all going to die in twelve, eleven, ten…years. The epidemiological models are not the same and are more reliable.

Just don’t throw them out because the initial models were based on us doing nothing. We have done a lot. That changes things. Sadly, in New York, the local leaders waited too long and now their reality is worse than what the models predicted.

None of that is the President’s fault, but there is no reason to dismiss the hard work and modeling done so far.

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