Friday, July 17, 2020

I am not Happy About Rising Deaths in Florida

I know some people in Florida. I like them. I would miss them if they died.

As Covid-19 case counts surge in states that haven't required enough mitigation tactics, conservatives play a familiar game of telling us we're looking at the wrong data. Here's the history of the number of new cases each day in Florida:

It's going up and getting faster at doing so. I won't try to impress you with math. Just look at the curve. It's going up, and it's going up faster every day.

But that's the case curve, and Republicans are saying that only dying matters. There are lots of other reasons to be worried about cases of Covid-19, like lifetime side-effects, exacerbation of other conditions, loss of time from work, and (last but not least) overloaded hospitals. But let's do what the Republicans want and look just ad the daily number of deaths in Florida:

As you can see, it is also rising and getting faster at doing so. (That bumpy oscillation imposed on the curve is due to uneven reports over weekends.)

Now, for a short time, the Republicans thought cases could go up without deaths going up because treatment was getting more successful. To prove this, they overlaid the early death history onto graphs of the early case count and showed they were pretty tightly coupled. We liberals have been warning everyone that deaths lag cases. The Republicans and their two-curve graphs tended to rebut this claim. They said deaths and cases come in tandem, yet here we were in places like Florida where the cases were surging and the deaths were not.

The reason is simple: early in the pandemic we tended only to test sick people. Those who were going to die tended to do so pretty shortly after being tested, so the case and death graphs were, indeed, coupled. Now, we are testing people and detecting cases a lot earlier in the evolution of a person's infection. This means we find and report cases, including those who are going to die, a lot longer before the correlated deaths occur. At the start, late testing meant deaths did not lag cases. Now, with earlier testing, deaths do lag cases. Both are rising in Florida, cases first, deaths second.

The Republicans want us to feel guilty about this. They say we want deaths to rise so our state governments can impose restrictions. Because of something to do with Jesus, guns, Donald Trump, and a sadly uneducated view of American constitutional law, they think the government is violating our rights by taking swift action to save our lives. The only way we can justify such intolerable deprivations of God-given liberty as telling everyone to mask up, they say, is to trot out The Death Curve and cackle about it. To get us to remain silent about how many people in Florida are dying for the Republicans' vision of their rights, they say we "want" to see deaths start rising. They say we would be "happy" if more people in Florida died.

Well, deaths in Florida are in fact rising. They are rising because of something to do with Jesus, guns, Donald Trump, and a governor who is a spineless ignoramus.

I know some people in Florida. I like them. I would miss them if they died.

Am I happy about this? No.

I am furious about it.

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