Wear a Mask, Everybody

Like many of you, I was told not to wear a mask at the beginning of the outbreak, so I did not purchase N95’s prophylactically. I’ve been kicking myself for this. But it turns out that if everyone wears even a homemade mask whenever they go outside, the rate of spread seems to be a lot lower. Correlation is not causation, but…it sure does seem correlated.

I was going to write a whole essay on why we need to be wearing masks, but this person did a great twitter thread on it instead, so here you go. Click on the “March 25” link for the whole thing.

 

The Next Stage: Hiding Bad Data

A few weeks ago, when we didn’t yet have adequate testing, I started going to individual state public health pages. States are required to make weekly reports about flu activity, and most states also collect “syndromic surveillance” meaning flu symptoms even without a positive flu test. The lingo for this is “ILI” or “influenza-like illness.”

It was a lagging indicator to be sure, as it takes time to compile the data and write the report, but by last week it started to be clear that even without proper testing, things were looking bad in terms of Covid-19 cases in a large number of states. So then I knew.

I knew that as time went on, they were going to have to start hiding the data.

And that’s what appears to be going on. Here’s what happened when I attempted to access the syndrome data for Louisiana’s latest report:

LA lies week 10

Well, that’s ok, because even though they’re hiding the data now on the state website, it’s still visible on the federal fluview website. So here’s what they don’t want you to see — the spike in recent cases:

ILI Louisiana week 11

Bear in mind this is data for “week 11,” which ended March 14th. It’s now March 26th so the data is waaay out of date.

What about Florida?

Well, their reports are still visible, and at first glance they appear to be the same. The charts look similar, and they have the same number of pages. So they’re not hiding anything….or are they?

Here’s Figure 1 from Week 9:

FL week 9 figure 1

And here’s the “same” chart from Week 12:

FL figure 1 week 12

If you just look at the chart, it appears that the numbers of ill people are going down. But if you look at the fine print, they’ve changed the report. The reports for weeks 9, 10, and 11 were for “influenza-like illness,” but for week 12 it changed to “diagnosis of influenza or flu.” Hiding the Covid.

But wait there’s more! Let’s look at this series of graphs. Looks like things are improving since week 9, right?

Week 9:

FL figure 16 week 9

Week 12:

FL figure 16 week 12

Again, they changed the criteria of the report. If they’d kept it about “influenza-like illness,” then floridians could see what is probably a massive uptick in cases. But no, they just quietly decided to change the report instead.

The only place you can get a hint of what’s happening is here:

FL fig 12 week 12

See how “flu” is going down in elder care facilities, while “ILI outbreaks” are increasing? That’s (most likely) Covid.

How hard is Florida trying to hide? Well, I can’t say for sure, but when you go to the National FLU VIEW page, the only state with no ILI data is Florida.

So, to review — Louisiana is putting its latest syndromic surveillance data behind a firewall, while Florida is completely changing its reports to keep the information off the radar. Not good.

Just thought y’all should know. Maybe your state is hiding the data, too.

~Update~

This post is getting a lot of traffic, so I wanted to add some links for those who want to do their own research:

Florida Flu Review Week 9, includes lots of ILI data

Florida Flu Review Week 10, same format

Florida Flu Review Week 11, same format

Florida Flu Review Week 12, most ILI data now missing

Note: I have downloaded all of these reports, so if anything changes later, please let me know.

Feelings

As someone who has suffered on and off with disability and isolation for 10 years, I’m getting an awful lot of feelings right now about how easily the world is moving to accommodate disability and isolation when it happens to, you know, them. 

More on that to come. Just wanted to say: disabled folks are seeing this, and noting it, and being very angry, and very tired, about this.

The Next Wave

My next question is, can folks who have been infected and then recovered still be carriers?

Or do they *not* carry the disease?

There could be a whole job category for them. They could work in the factories making masks and so forth, or delivering food to vulnerable populations.

It’s Not Neglect, It’s Murder

One of the hardest things about being murdered is wrapping your head around the concept that someone is trying to kill you.

For example, let’s say your boyfriend, whom you love, currently has his hands around your throat. He squeezes, tighter and tighter. You’re in the kitchen, you could stab him with a knife but . . . that would be lethal force!

Is he really trying to murder you?

Like, murder-murder?

Or is he just . . . murdering you ever so slightly? Maybe you shouldn’t fight back yet? Maybe you’ll stab him to death and the cops will say accusingly, “You killed a man because you couldn’t tell when he was just kidding?

Right now, in America, facing this virus with no help from our federal government . . . we’re all that woman, in the kitchen, trying to figure out if it’s “just sorta murder” or if it’s really “murder-murder.”

Spoiler: It’s murder-murder.

Everything right now is just inchoate agony and questions. Why did our administration refuse tests from WHO? Why did they discourage testing for so long? Why didn’t they do sampling months ago? Contact tracing? Why did they allow flights from epidemic countries without quarantine? Where are our masks? Why did they tell us not to wear them? Where is our medical stockpile? Where are our respirators? Why was our pandemic response team disbanded? Where is FEMA? Where are our field hospitals? Where is the Army Corps of Engineers? Where is the National Guard?

For those of us still lost in the fog of war, thinking, “Well, we shouldn’t worry that it’s malicious, because Trump is perfectly capable of killing us through sheer incompetence” . . . well yes, that may be true, but it’s not what’s happening.

Let me remind you who this man is. Here’s something Trump has actually said, using his outside voice, on the record:

“You know what solves it?” Trump said of America’s alleged troubles during a 2014 interview. “When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.”

And, lest we forget, here’s what his comrade-in-arms Steve Bannon said,

Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Trump is a serial rapist. He is a pedophile. He is a mafioso. He is a criminal. He put a hit out on his own ambassador to Ukraine. He is a Russian Asset. And he is currently, this very morning, committing genocide by putting people in concentration camps. It’s not neglect, it’s murder.

He is trying to murder us.

We need to work together, respond quickly and decisively, the way you would respond with a surgical team to cut out a Stage 4 Cancer. We need to put enormous amounts of pressure on our state and local government officials to mobilize. We need to put enormous amounts of pressure on Congress. And in the meantime, until we can get the resources of the government mobilized, we need to become our own rescue team. Share supplies, share information, share resources, evade the social media blackouts, help our fellow citizens.

Let’s get to work.

 

Hiatus

Well, it looks like the stress of looking at stories about how many thousands of people are going to die has made my intermittent recurring shingles…recur. So I guess I need to take a few days off from the maelstrom.

Stay safe, folks. Don’t forget to:

  • Refill your meds (!!)
  • Buy toilet paper
  • Assume the Trump regime is lying and act accordingly:
    • Be more cautious than they’re telling you to be
    • Remember that they love the stock market more than people
    • Maybe avoid unnecessary gatherings for now