The Other McCain

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Oregon’s Pointless COVID-19 Lockdown

Posted on | April 10, 2020 | 3 Comments


Wednesday, Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Kate Brown announced that the state’s public schools would not re-open this school year, and also extended “indefinitely” an order closing restaurants and bars. That order, issued last month, had been scheduled to end April 15.

A simple question: Why?

Oregon’s schools must be doing a lousy job of teaching arithmetic, to say nothing of basic science. According to CNN, Oregon (population 4.1 million) has had a total of 1,321 reported cases of COVID-19, with 44 deaths. That’s 31 cases per 100,000 population, a known infection rate 96% lower than the rate in New York. Your chances of dying of coronavirus in Oregon are slightly above one-in-a-million, and the vast majority of the cases are in a few cities, but the entire state remains under a stay-at-home order with no end in sight. The question remains: Why?

Jeff Stidham called my attention to a blog that is asking this question, and explains that Oregon is planning on a “surge” of COVID-19 cases, an expectation based on model projections which simply do not reflect the reality of the state’s coronavirus outbreak:

[T]he reason so many Governors locked down their states is because they were presented with data by the IHME that showed extreme death levels if lockdowns didn’t happen. Frankly, if I’d been presented with the IHME’s data I probably would have locked down Oregon, too. Here’s the problem: their data has proven to be disastrously wrong, and has overestimated death and hospitalization rates by 5-10x, which means they have been off by roughly 500-1,000%, which basically means their data has been useless. . . .
[A]ny peak for COVID-19 has not only ALREADY HAPPENED, but it was actually happening before Governor Brown’s lockdown order of March 23rd. Moreover, even if you accept the highly faulty model that Governor Brown is using that has never been right, even on our worst day it shows that our hospitals will barely be stretched with a forecast usage of 8.6% of current capacity.

The local press in Oregon is still relying on these projections, publishing headlines like “Oregon prepares for coronavirus surge,” despite the fact — clearly apparent from data published by Oregon’s health department — that the state’s “surge” in cases is already over.

Think about this: It takes a certain number of days between the time someone becomes infected with COVID-19 and the time they experience symptoms (if they ever do exhibit symptoms, since many cases seem to be asymptomatic). The reason for all the crisis messaging in March was that it was projected that a “surge” in cases would overwhelm the hospital system. Patients who experience only mild symptoms — they experience flu-like symptoms for a few days, then recover — and never require hospitalization are irrelevant to the public-health concerns about a possible shortage of hospital beds, ventilators, medical personnel, etc. Therefore, the important statistic to study is not the cumulative total of known COVID-ID cases, but rather the number of hospitalized patients.

The time delay between a person contracting the virus and being hospitalized is one factor to keep in mind when examining trends in the pandemic. Another factor is the time-lag between onset of symptoms and death, in those cases that prove to be fatal. In Italy, for example, their number of new cases peaked about six days before the daily number of deaths. The most recent Oregon coronavirus deaths:

Oregon’s 39th COVID-19 death is a 74-year-old man in Linn County, who tested positive on March 22 and died on April 3 at his residence. He had underlying medical conditions.
Oregon’s 40th COVID-19 death is a 97-year-old man in Linn County, who tested positive on March 15 and died on April 4 at his residence. He had underlying medical conditions.
Oregon’s 41st COVID-19 death is an 87-year-old woman in Multnomah County, who tested positive on March 28 and died on April 6 at her residence. She had underlying medical conditions.
Oregon’s 42nd COVID-19 death is a 41-year-old woman in Multnomah County, who tested positive on April 5 and died on April 8 at Oregon Health and Sciences University. She had underlying medical conditions.
Oregon’s 43rd COVID-19 death is a 66-year-old man in Multnomah County, who tested positive on March 31 and died on April 5 at his residence. He had underlying medical conditions.
Oregon’s 44th COVID-19 death is a 74-year-old man in Benton County, who tested positive on March 26 and died on April 8 at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. He had underlying medical conditions.

So, these six patients tested positive between March 15 and April 5, and died between April 3 and April 8. The time between positive and death ranged from three days (patient #42) to 21 days (patient #40). All but one of these six deaths involved patients who had tested positive in March. And the number of new cases has been decreasing since the third week in March. Given that Oregon’s current case numbers are far from placing any strain on the state’s hospital capacity, that the known infection rate in Oregon is barely 3 in 10,000 residents, and that the state’s death rate of known cases is 3.3%, why is the entire state still locked down? Because the governor is a Democrat?



3 Responses to “Oregon’s Pointless COVID-19 Lockdown”

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