Wednesday, August 04, 2021

The Problem With Numbers

 There is no doubt that the US in general and Louisiana in particular is in the midst of a Covid surge.

On Monday, our Governor imposed a statewide mask mandate that takes effect today. During the press conference, he trotted out some medical directors who talked about the challenges they face trying to treat patients in the midst of this surge.  One Doc said that her hospital was so overwhelmed with Covid patients that they are unable to adequately care for all the patients under their care.

Another Doc said that his hospital had seen a 300% increase in Covid over the past few weeks.  Which caused me to wonder?  What does that mean?  If he had one Covid patient last week, and he has three Covid patients this week, that is a 300% increase, but it doesn't mean he is in a disaster.  It means that we need more context beyond a percentage.

There is no argument that Covid is a real thing.  There is also no argument that this pandemic has been heavily politicized.  Last year, the opposition used it to attack President Trump and used it to modify voting procedures to affect the election.  They are now in charge, and have continued to use it to advance their domestic agenda.  It's all Covid all the time with these people.

As in all things political, there will be a backlash. There always is.  The sad part is that many of us look on the Covid pandemic not so much as a medical issue, but as a political issue.  I blame the medical community for making it a political issue. Because they have not pushed back when the politicians used the issue to further political goals.  Which means that generally I now no longer trust the medical community.  That's a shame, but they did it to themselves.

One bright spot may be a local hospital, who is now publishing raw numbers daily.  They are telling us how many Covid patients they have each day.  This is important, because transparency will reestablish trust.

Hooray for Rapides Regional.  Now, if the other large hospitals get on board, we can assess the problem for ourselves.


Termite said...

Thank you Rapides General. Finally, some raw numbers.

BobF said...

Third paragraph reminds me of many moons ago when I was taught the dangers of percentages: If last year the Soviets made one TV and this year they made 3, they had a 300% increase in production. If you were they, which number would you tell the West?

Jonathan H said...

This reminds me of the shrill pronouncements from Ohio several months ago that statewide there were 3,000 cases of COVID and that they had driven hospital occupancy to 85%.
What they didn't tell you was that Ohio has over 33,000 hospital beds and that hospitals everywhere try to keep occupancy over 75% so they don't lose money.
Context is vital!

Termite said...

"Context is vital!\"