Post #796: When Radford University makes the news later today …

Source:  The Flat Hat.

… please don’t freak out, if you’re the parent of a Virginia college student.  Your kid is probably worried enough for the both of you.

Radford University is scheduled to update their COVID-19 dashboard data today.  When they do, that’s almost certainly going to make the news.  Based on the data reported daily by the state, Radford is going to show about 250 new cases for the week ending 8/30.   Which, for a student population of about 8000, is a rate of about 450 / 100K/ day.  Which compares to about 9/ 100K/ day as the overall Virginia community-resident rate for that age group. Continue reading Post #796: When Radford University makes the news later today …

Post #G24: Paw paw neurotoxicity.

Paw paws.  Source:  My yard.  Destination:  Recycle bin.

We have a couple of paw paw trees in our yard.  The are nice-looking trees, with large gloss green leaves.  I have the vague recollection that we put them in for butterfly habitat, as they are critical for the reproduction of the zebra swallowtail.

We rarely get any edible fruit from them, as the fruit always seem to go from rock hard to “the deer got them” in a matter of days.

And, as it turns out, that may have been a lucky break. Continue reading Post #G24: Paw paw neurotoxicity.

Post #787: Virginia coronavirus trends to 8/26/2020: Not much change

We’re getting around 900 cases/day in  Virginia, down from 1000 or so a couple of weeks ago.  Maybe 90 cases/day in Fairfax County, and 2/day in ZIP code 22180.  The latter is up a bit from a week ago.

The only new thing worth saying is that with students returning to college, and the intense scrutiny those students are receiving (see prior post), there has been something of a change in the reporting of cases.  The greater scrutiny of those populations, while at school, should boost the reported COVID-19 case numbers (regardless of whether the actual rate of new infections goes up).  I’m not sure whether there are enough college students in Virginia to have any material impact on the state-wide results.  In any case, whatever the size of that effect is, the state-total numbers continue on a slight downward trend.

My usual graphs follow.

Post #785: It’s time for the Ultimate Jeopardy Power Players Tournament.

Source:  New York Times.

We had to put up with the President bragging about passing his mental exam (“the duck says quack, the cow says _____”).  Now the Republicans are attacking the mental state of what’s-his-name, the Democratic Presidential candidate.  Pretty much every arm of the Republican propaganda apparatus today features a story on the mental decline of that old white guy running for President.

I say, it’s time to put up or shut up.  We need a person of unassailable stature to settle this once and for all.  We need the ultimate Jeopardy Power Players tournament: Presidential Jeopardy.

Alex Trebec, the host of Jeopardy, more-or-less single-handedly revived that show some years after the Art-Fleming-era Jeopardy went off the air.  And, to someone who has watched both, Trebec’s version of it is a substantial improvement over the Fleming era show. Not just for the production values, but for the rules governing the basic operation of the game.

We’ve had many variants on standard Jeopardy, including, most notably, Celebrity Jeopardy and Power Players Week.  So it’s not like the idea of Jeopardy tournament for Washington insiders is new.  I’m just suggesting they kick it up a notch.

If Mr. Trebec has one more show left in him, I say, let’s skip all the meaningless braggadocio and disinformation.  Let’s make it real.  What say we get an objective assessment of just how slow both of our Presidential candidates are.  On live TV.  For the entire world to watch.  One last round of Power Players Jeopardy.

Let’s make it a true daily double.

I’m going to miss Trebec-era Jeopardy.

Post #778: New case counts for Virginia, 8/21/2020, continuation of slightly lower trend

Note:  My wife found another Vienna, VA blogger who is tracking the COVID-19 numbers.  He obviously far better at graphics than I am, and you might want to check out his site for a more sophisticated set of views of the Virginia data.

I’m sticking with my flat-footed approach of three simple graphs.  These all rely on daily new COVID-19 case counts from the Virginia Department of Health.

Virginia (blue) continues to see somewhere around 1000 new cases per day.  It’s been like that, plus or minus, for more than a month  now.  Fairfax County, by contrast, is now up around 90 new cases per day, up from maybe 60/day a month ago.

Continue reading Post #778: New case counts for Virginia, 8/21/2020, continuation of slightly lower trend

Post #763: Stable new case counts in Virginia

Guess the new norm is about 1000/day for the Commonwealth, maybe 60/day for Fairfax County.  Anyway, the good news is that it doesn’t look like we’re headed down the AZ/FL/TX path.  My three standard graphs follow, updated to today (7/23/2020).

Last 28 days of new cases, Virginia = Blue, Fairfax County = orange.

Last 28 days, late-reopening areas (NoVA, Richmond City, Accomack) = Blue, early-reopening areas = orange.

And the ZIPs of Vienna:


Post #761: This is what absence of leadership looks like: Dinosaurs

Notice, I’m not saying “intelligent leadership”.  I’m not even saying “effective leadership”.  Just “leadership”.

This brings together all my “school of hard knocks” posts.  And related.  And boils down to dinosaurs.  We, in the US, have become dinosaurs.  Ponderous, slow, fundamentally stupid — dinosaurs.

Recall that, three months+ ago, I, a no-credentials blogger (eh, well, Ph.D. economist), talked about the German use of pooled testing for COVID-19, in a math-oriented post (Post #605).

That’s German, as in Germany, the country.  The country that is succeeding in dealing with COVID-19.

Three.  @#$(ing.  Months.

And today, we find out that the US FDA has issued an “emergency” authorization to allow some (not all, but some) US labs to do something like what the Germans were doing three months ago.

You do have to wonder what their definition of “emergency” is.

Not stupid enough for you yet?  Let’s look at some direct quotes:

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in the statement. “Sample pooling becomes especially important as infection rates decline and we begin testing larger portions of the population.”

Yeah, that’s really what’s key right now.  We really have to be looking forward to the point where infection rates decline.

Ah, let’s just finish this with one final quote:

“Quest said in a statement it expects to deploy the testing technique at two of its laboratories by the end of next week, and additional laboratories will follow.”

Two laboratories.  End of next week.

For those of you who have no professional interest in health care, Quest is, (I think) the largest laboratory services provider in the USA. If they aren’t #1, then they are #2.

And, maybe, two of their labs, next week, might be set up for this.

Better watch out.   I hear there’s an ice age coming.

See, the thing is, bureaucracies, in and of themselves, may eventually get to the right answers.  But bureaucracies are, by their nature, ponderously slow.

That’s why you need leadership.  Something that countries outside the US have had, to varying degrees.

But absent that, the you get what we’re getting.  Eventually, we’ll probably get something close to the right answers to whatever questions actually got asked.

And that’s our COVID-19 response, in a leadership vacuum.