Racial Profiling in the Age of Corona

There is a full roundup of stories dealing with Identity Politics in the hysterical times we’re living in.  Even though the Coronavirus seems an ill-suited square peg to be stuffed into the round identity politics hole, for some people, that’s all they do, so as I wrote about here and here, stories abound.

For Blacks, the real threat isn’t the virus, its racial profiling.  I came across two stories on how Blacks are hardest hit when they wear masks.

People of color are worried they’ll be racially profiled if they wear homemade face masks

Activists and academics fear that people of color will be racially profiled if they wear homemade face masks in light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to make masks from cloth or bandanas when medical-grade masks are unavailable.

“We have a lot of examples of the presumed criminality of black men in general,” Trevon Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University who won’t following the CDC’s recommendation, said in an interview with CNN. “And then we have the advice to go out in public in something that … can certainly be read as being criminal or nefarious, particularly when applied to black men.”

This story, besides hitting the usual marks about Blacks hardest hit by the virus, has “Activists and Academics” worrying, presumably, about Black people being shot by police for wearing masks.

Cops:  Pew Pew Pew! [Police firing his service weapon]

Masked Black Man:  Urrgghh…it is finished.  [Black man dying]

Cops:  He had a mask on, case closed. [Receives medal for bravery]

Along the same vein…

Why coronavirus mask-wearing orders leave black Americans facing a tough decision

The coronavirus pandemic has created life-and-death dilemmas for people all over the globe — and a particularly devastating one for black men living in America: Wear a mask for protection against COVID-19? Or go without one, simply to lower the risk of being perceived as a criminal?

This specific quandary comes amid some key factors: reports about black people dying of the coronavirus at disproportionately high rates, recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all adults to now wear cloth masks in public, and, taking effect this week, a New York State order that everyone must wear a mask in public if social distancing is not possible.

That all leaves black men, many of whom have grown accustomed to monitoring their appearance so as to not look “threatening” in public, between a rock and a hard place.

So check about Black people dying disproportionally than white people, and check about the problem of wearing a mask when it’s a “life-and-death” dilemma.  Less clear is why it’s a problem “all over the globe.”  Do Black people face the same threat in Port-au-Prince and Lagos as they do in Chiraq?

The thing about both of these articles is that they’re heavy on the hand wringing and light on actual examples of police, store managers, or even the local Becky on her cell phone doing any actual profiling.

To find some actual profiling, I had to go here…

Racist Attacks Against Asians Continue to Rise as the Coronavirus Threat Grows

Hate crime task forces have been responding to calls and social media users who have been posting videos and tweeting stories of attacks — both verbal and physical — that have been posted online to try to find perpetrators who’ve been targeting Asians.

As a long time skeptic of “Hate Crimes,” as I wrote about during the Jussie Smollett hoax and earlier, I’m not one to dive right in and gullibly swallow every racial tale of woe.  The incentives of sacred victimhood are too sweet for there not to be hate hoaxes, but by the same token, there are also real attacks and crimes inspired by racial animus.  This article lists several reported attacks against Asians.  Some may eventually turn out to be hoaxes, but I also wouldn’t put it past some people to commit these crimes either.

Meanwhile we live during a period in which for the first time in American history, White America is more relieved to see a Black man with a mask waiting outside of Wal-Mart than one without.

I call that progress!

The Incredibly Shrinking COVID-19 Fatality Rate

Almost all of our knowledge of this virus initially came from Chinese data, which we’ve simultaneously accepted uncritically as accurate and at the same time, suspected as a fake Chinese disinformation campaign.  Back in February we were thinking (again based on Chinese Data) that the case fatality rate was 2.3%

Instead as we’ve gathered real data in our own country, we’ve learned this:

The recent Stanford University antibody study now estimates that the fatality rate if infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent, a risk far lower than previous World Health Organization estimates that were 20 to 30 times higher and that motivated isolation policies. 

In New York City, an epicenter of the pandemic with more than one-third of all U.S. deaths, the rate of death for people 18 to 45 years old is 0.01 percent, or 10 per 100,000 in the population. On the other hand, people aged 75 and over have a death rate 80 times that. For people under 18 years old, the rate of death is zero per 100,000.

A COVID-19 case fatality rate of 0.1 to 0.2 percent is far lower than the fatality rates that frightened us into shutting down our entire economy.  Meanwhile the WHO still estimates a CFR of 3.4%; definitely it’s far lower than a Case Fatality Rate of 17% for SARS, or a whopping 34% for MERS.

By comparison, the case fatality rate of the annual flu is estimated to be around 0.1%.  So based on the Stanford antibody study, the COVID-19 case fatality rate is pretty close to that.  So…still not the flu, but not that far off.

Of course the Stanford study isn’t the only antibody test being conducted.  There was the LA County Study which got similar results; a far higher penetration of COVID-19 than previously thought, with most of the cases being mild symptoms or asymptomatic.

There are more antibody studies underway and no doubt we’ll see more results like this over the next few weeks.  So what can we conclude from this?

  1. COVID-19 is far more infectious than previously thought, with possibly millions of people who may have already had the infection and never knew it.
  2. It’s a lot less fatal than previously thought, with far fewer fatalities per capita than initially estimated.

More Fudging the Numbers

Since I wrote about The New York Times article which highlighted that New York City was adding 3,700 extra deaths to their COVID-19 death count from deaths that didn’t have a positive Coronavirus positive test, I’ve come across several other reports of COVID fudging to increase the numbers.  I guess having invested so much credibility in promising the Apocalypse, government agencies seem determined to deliver one, even if it’s a statistical mirage.

The Powerline Blog alerted me to a story that ran on local TV news in which showed how the Minnesota Department of Health was fudging the numbers:

Dr. Scott Jensen is both a physician and a Minnesota state senator. Yesterday he was interviewed by a local television station and dropped a bombshell: he, and presumably all other Minnesota doctors, got a seven-page letter from the Minnesota Department of Health that gave guidance on how to classify COVID-19 deaths. The letter said that if a patient died of, e.g., pneumonia, and was believed to have been exposed to COVID-19, the death certificate should say that COVID-19 was the cause of death even though the patient was never tested, or never tested positive, for that disease.

Here is the link to the story that ran on station KVLY here.

Ohio is also adopting a much broader definition of COVID-19 deaths:

Ohio has adopted an expanded federal definition for counting coronavirus cases, but the reported numbers still will miss the vast majority of actual infections, said Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Starting Friday, the state’s Covid-19 website lists “probable” cases alongside those confirmed by tests.

The good news is…

For now, Ohio will report that sum but also present presumed numbers separately from confirmed.

So there is hope that sometime in the future, after the hysteria has abated, we can separate the real numbers from the shady ones, at least in Ohio.

Of course this nonsense couldn’t go on without the CDC giving its blessing, and sure enough…

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. tally of coronavirus cases and deaths could soon jump because federal health officials will now count illnesses that are not confirmed by lab testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states Tuesday to include probable COVID-19 cases in their reports to the agency. Previously, most states reported only lab-confirmed cases and deaths.

The change hasn’t caused U.S. counts to rise much faster than they had been, but officials in some states said they were just learning about the change. Pennsylvania, for example, has begun to follow the CDC and expand its reporting, Dr. Rachel Levine, the state’s secretary of health, said in a Wednesday call with reporters.

So there you have it, inaccurate numbers, dictated from the top.  If only we had a responsible press corps to ask about this during those daily Coronavirus briefings.

 

Fudging the Covid-19 Death Rate

On my last post, just when I was starting to get a little cocky on my prediction of the COVID-19 death rates being a lot closer to reality than virtually any of the models and dire predictions of the “experts,” some politicians and public health departments decided to stir the pot a bit and see if they could juice those numbers. From The New York Times:

“New York City, already a world epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll by more than 3,700 victims on Tuesday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it.

The new figures, released by the city’s Health Department, drove up the number of people killed in New York City to more than 10,000, and appeared to increase the overall United States death count by 17 percent to more than 26,000.”

Now you are probably wondering, what could possibly be the criteria for including 3,700 extra deaths with no positive COVID-19 test?  Well there is an answer of sorts:

And in a city reeling from the overt danger posed by the virus, top health officials said they had identified another grim reality: The outbreak is likely to have also led indirectly to a spike in deaths of New Yorkers who may never have been infected.

Three thousand more people died in New York City between March 11 and April 13 than would have been expected during the same time period in an ordinary year, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the commissioner of the city Health Department, said in an interview. While these so-called excess deaths were not explicitly linked to the virus, they might not have happened had the outbreak not occurred, in part because it overwhelmed the normal health care system.

“This is yet another part of the impact of Covid,” she said, adding that more study was needed. Similar analysis is commonly done after heat waves and was performed in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

There is a lot to unpack there, but it boils down to, “more people died in the city this year than last year so….eh…corona.”

This is bullshit.

I wrote about the Hurricane Maria fake statistical analysis commissioned by Puerto Rico’s government two years ago as a means to do a federal money grab by juicing the numbers.  Not satisfied with the actual death rates from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico paid for a study that would ignore reality and produce, yes a statistical analysis that compared death rates with the previous year and any discrepancy was suddenly considered a hurricane death.

“New York City is among a handful of places in the country, including Connecticut, Ohio and Delaware, that are beginning to disclose cases where infection is presumed but not confirmed.

In California and Washington — locations of early cases in the American outbreak — officials said they included deaths as connected to Covid-19 only when the disease was confirmed by testing. Louisiana and Chicago followed the same protocol. “

Hmm…that would explain the lower than expected number of cases in California; they are only reporting actual cases!

Well thank goodness the CDC, an agency made up of actual doctors and scientists, would never tolerate this sort of slipshod nonsense.

“The C.D.C., in its guidance to local governments, has recommended that cases of “assumed” coronavirus infection be noted on death certificates since before New York City recorded its first death on March 14.“

Oh boy…

I get that the long trail of federal dollars associated with the coronavirus is a powerful incentive for state and local governments to cheat and goose the numbers up, but I admit I’m a bit shocked at how blatant the fraud is.  The New York Times article presented the story as just a fact of life that it was perfectly normal that the New York City Health Department felt that artificially inflating the death rates from COVID-19 was just a normal process of government.

I guess fraud is a normal process of government.

 

Coronavirus Predictions and Projections

All models are approximations. Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful. However, the approximate nature of the model must always be borne in mind. Statisticians, like artists, have the bad habit of falling in love with their models.

-George E. P. Box

The collapse of the COVID-19 models crashing against the shores of reality wasn’t unexpected for anyone used to the outlandish global warming model predictions, or actually any other model that’s used for public policy purposes. It’s just hard to model a simulation of reality. Forgetting to input one little thread of cause and effect can render your model useless for purposes of predicting the future behavior of…whatever it is you are trying to model.

Just for fun, recall that The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted that the number of hospital beds, “On April 2, IHME predicted 262,092; on April 5, that was reduced to 140,823.”  And then it was wrong of course about April 5th: “The IHME projected on April 5 that hard hit New York would need about 24,000 hospital beds, including about 6,000 for ICU patients at that point; of course, April 5 has already happened, and New York announced that it had 16,479 people being hospitalized, including 4,376 ICU patients — i.e., the model was about a third off on the day it was published.”

Of course hospital beds are all well and good, but the money shot for all of these models is the death rate.  Mother Jones published a graphic on March 17th showing the Imperial College projections.

Notice (because this part has been left out in defense of these models) that these predictions include mitigation such as shut downs and social distancing. So where are we at now?  According to Bloomberg

“One of President Donald Trump’s top medical advisers slashed projections for U.S. coronavirus deaths on Thursday, saying that about 60,000 people may die — almost half as many as the White House estimated a week ago.”

60,000 people eh?  For reference, on March 24th I wrote this:

“If Covid-19 deaths fail to exceed annual flu deaths, than I was right, the hysteria was overblown, and I can return to my usual state of smugness.”

As a reminder of annual flu death numbers, for the 2017-2018 flu season the CDC estimate was 61,099 flu deaths.  For this season, the 2019-2020 flu season; the tentative estimates range 24,000-62,000 dead.

Frankly I’m feeling a little smug right now, but to fair, not too smug since this isn’t over and the current model’s 60,000 projection?

It’s just a model.

 

The Racialization of COVID-19: The Hardest Hit

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we could expect to see many more stories linking race and coronavirus, and boy oh boy, did the dam break!  I collected a few of my favorites.

Coronavirus Is Wreaking Havoc on Black People Across the United States

I hardly ever see the word “wreaking” in print so this caught my eye immediately.  The gist of this article is that “Black people make up a disproportionately large percentage of new positive Covid-19 cases and deaths in major cities all over the United States.” 

It did mention something I had mentioned a few weeks ago, an early rumor that black people were immune.

“There are a number of reasons why Black people and other people of color in the city are at increased risk for not only contracting the virus but also dying or experiencing severe symptoms from it, Knight says. There was early misinformation floating around that Black people couldn’t contract the virus…”

Outcry over racial data grows as virus slams black Americans

This AP story does the usual hardest hit lines before almost, but not quite, edging into conspiracy theory territory, “Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the AP it would be “indefensible” if the federal government was concealing any testing and treatment data.”

But the most interesting thing I learned from this story is that the Associated Press has a”Race and Ethnicity Team.”  So what’s a race and ethnicity journalist team supposed to write about when the story is about a virus?  Well there is a template…

Why Black Americans appear to be more affected by COVID-19

This Yahoo video is a step by step of the template I noted a few weeks ago.

Whiteness to blame

Memories of Oppression

Lack of Basic Medical Care

Frightening statistics

Dire Predictions

Apparently most of modern journalism consists of fill-in-the-blank.  That would explain a lot…

Coronavirus map shows Illinois zip codes, COVID-19 cases

ABC 7 in Chicago breaks down virus deaths by zip code, which in segregated Chicago, is almost the same as breaking them down by race.

More than half of the COVID-19 cases in the city of Chicago are African Americans, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city health officials announced Monday.

According to data from the city, African Americans compose 30 percent of the population, but make up 52 percent of the city’s COVID-19 cases. African Americans also make up 72 percent of the city’s deaths from COVID-19.

“This is a call to action moment for all of us,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “When we talk about equity and inclusion, they are not just nice notions. They are an imperative that we must embrace as a city.”

I don’t get what “inclusion” has to do with this, but clearly “equity” is a call for more non-black deaths by virus.  And speaking of non-blacks…

“The death rate right now in the cases that have been reported for non-Latinx deaths in Chicago is seven times the death rate as its for white non-Latinx,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, director of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

That’s a great sentence right out of the Newspeak handbook that’s designed to be as confusing as possible. Nowhere are “Latinx” deaths mentioned.  I find that interesting that so far, no one cares about that.  I expected to see by now some interest and articles about how COVID-19 is hitting Hispanic or other ethnicities.

There is certainly no mention of Asians.  That seems a subject you can’t touch with a 10 foot social distancing pole.

 

More on the Counting of COVID-19 Deaths

Since I wrote last week about the lack of consistency in recording or determining what counts as a Coronavirus caused death, others are noticing the same thing.  I caught an article at American Greatness which made similar points that I did, only from a more domestic viewpoint.  In Are COVID-19 Deaths Being Overreported? The author makes the point that the CDC doesn’t exactly have a rigid guideline for determining COVID-19 deaths.

“In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely (e.g., the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as ‘probable’ or ‘presumed’,” the agency advises. “In these instances, certifiers should use their best clinical judgment in determining if a COVID–19 infection was likely.” That clinical judgment, alarmingly, does not require administering a test to confirm the presence of the virus.

So although I wasn’t surprised by last week’s research that Europe was slipshod in their statistics, I was disappointed that the CDC was just as loose.  I had assumed, and I suspect most American’s assumed, that a determination of death by COVID-19 would include an actual positive test for…COVID-19.

Again, as I noted last week, it sure would be nice if some reporters asked some real questions about these numbers and the criteria surrounding them at these Coronavirus press conferences instead of trying to troll Trump by slipping Red Chinese mouthpieces into the press conference.

Coronavirus: Minorities Hardest Hit

In retrospect, I wonder why it’s taken so long to see an article like this.  From Propublica comes this:

Early Data Shows African Americans Have Contracted and Died of Coronavirus at an Alarming Rate

No, the coronavirus is not an “equalizer.” Black people are being infected and dying at higher rates. Here’s what Milwaukee is doing about it — and why governments need to start releasing data on the race of COVID-19 patients.

I think there must be a template document for articles like this in which [Crisis of the Day] afflicts [identity politics fill in] at a greater rate than that 21st Century supervillain, white males (boo! hiss!).  This does seem to have elements that I’ve seen a hundred times before:

Rich whites are at fault.

The coronavirus entered Milwaukee from a white, affluent suburb. Then it took root in the city’s black community and erupted.

Government brings back painful memories of oppression.

Then, when the shelter-in-place order came, there was a natural pushback among those who recalled other painful government restrictions — including segregation and mass incarceration — on where black people could walk and gather.

Because of racist lack of basic medical care…

As the disease spread at a higher rate in the black community, it made an even deeper cut. Environmental, economic and political factors have compounded for generations, putting black people at higher risk of chronic conditions that leave lungs weak and immune systems vulnerable: asthma, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. In Milwaukee, simply being black means your life expectancy is 14 years shorter, on average, than someone white.

The reasons for this are the same reasons that African Americans have disproportionately high rates of maternal death, low levels of access to medical care and higher rates of asthma…

Frightening racist statistics!

In Michigan, where the state’s population is 14% black, African Americans made up 35% of cases and 40% of deaths as of Friday morning. Detroit, where a majority of residents are black, has emerged as a hot spot with a high death toll. As has New Orleans.

Illinois and North Carolina are two of the few areas publishing statistics on COVID-19 cases by race, and their data shows a disproportionate number of African Americans were infected.

Dire Predictions!  Although to be fair, that characterizes virtually any article having to do with the coronavirus, but when it comes to minorities, is even more dire!

“It will be unimaginable pretty soon,” said Dr. Celia J. Maxwell, an infectious disease physician and associate dean at Howard University College of Medicine, a school and hospital in Washington dedicated to the education and care of the black community. “And anything that comes around is going to be worse in our patients. Period.

Period!

Although the article does ultimately make the reasonable point that demographic data, including race, is important in determining how and who is at risk.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks virulent outbreaks and typically releases detailed data that includes information about the age, race and location of the people affected. For the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC has released location and age data, but it has been silent on race. The CDC did not respond to ProPublica’s request for race data related to the coronavirus or answer questions about whether they were collecting it at all.

And as we all know, when America catches a cold, black people get the coronavirus.

Experts say that the nation’s unwillingness to publicly track the virus by race could obscure a crucial underlying reality: It’s quite likely that a disproportionate number of those who die of coronavirus will be black.

After all, the real disease is racism.

“We declared racism as a public health issue,” said Kowalik, the city’s health commissioner. “It frames not only how we do our work but how transparent we are about how things are going. It impacts how we manage an outbreak.”

And because of distrust, and racism, the “community” doesn’t trust or listen to Public Health instructions.

Knowing which communities are most impacted allows public health officials to tailor their messaging to overcome the distrust of black residents.

“We’ve been told so much misinformation over the years about the condition of our community,” Royal, of the NAACP, said. “I believe a lot of people don’t trust what the government says.”

Because…Tuskegee Experiment.

And of course businesses are forcing their people of color employees (POCE) to put themselves at risk.

Police and inspectors are responding to complaints received about “noncompliant” businesses forcing staff to come to work or not practicing social distancing in the workplace. Violators could face fines.

“Who are we getting these complaints from?” she asked. “Many people of color.”

Here that?  Many!

And in keeping with the Ta Nehsi Coates era…

“When COVID-19 passes and we see the losses … it will be deeply tied to the story of post-World War II policies that left communities marginalized…”

You guessed it, redlining!

With this basic template, you could plug just about any public issue into it and get pretty much the same causes and the same effects.  Expect to see more and more stories like this in the media.