About That Spike In Louisiana’s Coronavirus Numbers Today

The noon numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health are sure to freak out just about everybody in the state, because clearly the Wuhan coronavirus is out of control and it will kill us all. After all, the number of positive cases has been growing by a bit over 1,000 a day and now it’s more than triple that, so it’s imperative that even more draconian measures must be taken to keep people in their homes and stop the spread of the virus.

And surely we’ll see a majority of people responding to that with screams of “Yes! Yes! Do whatever you have to!”

Based on some of the reaction to previous posts we’ve had pushing back on this government-promoted and agenda-driven hysteria, questioning the basis for all of this means we’re not serious about the Wuhan coronavirus – despite the fact that we appear to be the only ones serious about a hundred-fold increase in unemployment claims in Louisiana over the past two weeks. We’re more serious about this – and all of the aspects of it – than the people blindly screeching about the healing properties of self-isolation.

Except that massive spike in coronavirus case counts isn’t real. It’s based on a mathematical error. Here was an e-mail from the governor’s office which went out last night to legislators and stakeholders, and it ought to give you a good indication of just what kind of record-keeping is driving the shutdown of the state’s economy.

Following up on our conversation this evening, based on communications we had late today with the Ochsner system, we will likely be receiving an influx of positive tests tomorrow, the samples of which were taken sometime over the last week. Ochsner alerted us this evening that they detected a large number of positive tests logged into their system that for some reason did not transmit to the state lab. They are working on fixing the issue, but in the meantime, it’s important that members understand that tomorrow, based on the conversations this evening, we expect to see at least a 3000 increase in positives reflected in the numbers tomorrow.

This dramatic increase has both positives and negatives. Clearly, it’s unfortunate that there was a breakdown in reporting. But the result has many different layers. We know clearly that this will increase our number of positives from the 6500 range to close to 10000. There are two important things to keep in mind with this increase in numbers: (1) Ochsner always believed these positive numbers were getting to the state. The hospital bed and vent census reported every day – the numbers we look at in trying to determine what our bed and vent capacity are – encompassed all of the positives within the 3000 or so tests not actually transmitted to the state. This means that the numbers we’re tracking relative to the number of COVID positive and PUI hospital beds and vents will not change. (2) Our total ratio of hospital utilization will decrease based on the increase number of positives without an increase number of occupied hospital beds. (3) This means we have a lot more people who presented ambulatory for testing that have been self-isolating at home.

We’ll continue to update you as we receive additional information. As you both recognize, our status changes hourly. I appreciate your leadership and as always, I’m available for anything you need.

Had there been an increase of 300 Wuhan coronavirus cases per day over the past 10 days, which would have been the case had these tests been properly reported and catalogued, two things would have been true – first, people would have accepted this as a steady ramping-up of case numbers which all of us accepted would be the case in the face of an epidemic, and second, the state’s hospitalization and death rates would have been understood to be a good bit closer to the national average.

Put the total number of coronavirus cases at 10,000 instead of the 6,474 that LDH reported yesterday, and Louisiana’s death rate drops from 4.6 percent to 2.7 percent. The national average sat at 2.2 percent yesterday.

Add this to something else we received yesterday…

In that article, Scott McKay talks about the possibility that JBE pumped up the number of deaths (54) that were put out on the day that the legislature convened to finish filing bills (March 31).  Scott points out that 54 deaths was the highest (most scary) number up to that date.  And, he proposes the possibility that a governor in JBE’s position might want to publish such a high number on such a day in order to pressure the legislature in to again leave Baton Rouge.

What Scott did not mention is that the announced death toll for the two of the three days prior to high day of 54 (Tuesday, March 31) were much lower than the days leading up to those two low days.  Those two low days could have been low because someone harvested extra deaths from those days in order to move and dump extra deaths into the March 31 number of deaths (54). (March 25 – had 19 deaths, Mar 26 – 18 deaths, March 27 – 36 deaths, and then the two low days of March 28 – 18 deaths, March 29 – 14 deaths).  At the rate that deaths were progressing, March 29 and March 29 probably should have been in the high 20’s or low 30’s.

Now, the death count for the day just prior to the reconvening of the legislature was a relatively normal level of deaths (34 deaths).  That normal number reflects what I would do if I were planning to move death numbers, that is, I would not take numbers from the day just prior to my artificially high day.

Scott might want to research and double check my numbers.  If they are right, he might want to add that information to his story.

And a quick addendum…

As a follow up from my message from a couple of hours ago, Scott might also want to note that the day following JBE’s announcement of the high number of death (54 deaths) on the day that the legislature was convened (March 31), the number of deaths went down dramatically, to 34.

We’re not saying the Ochsner mistake is evidence of the same kind of manipulation clearly going on with the death rate. What we are saying is that everybody is tying themselves in knots over the coronavirus numbers LDH is releasing every day at noon, and doing so is a mistake. It puts you at the mercy of a governor and a bureaucracy who are clearly playing fast and loose with the numbers whether owing to a lack of competence or to something more agenda-driven.

Meanwhile, Louisiana’s economy suffers. Business closures all over the state are ramping up, investments and jobs are going up in smoke and what was already a wreck of a state economy is descending into a Third World level of dysfunction as a result of this shutdown. The people responsible for ordering it can’t even keep their numbers straight. They don’t deserve your blind trust.



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