Community Opinions

COMMUNITY OPINION: Teach me to fish

Resident Randy Logue writes about using COVID-19 data to calculate statistics and help people make informed decisions.

This community opinion was contributed by resident Randy Logue. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

I have been very troubled by the continued reporting of the coronavirus by the news media, and as I stated in my last letter the lack of transparency from our governmental organizations so I decided to do some research of my own. I think you will find the statistics are startling, but probably not in the way you would think.

For the purposes of this letter I want to make sure that the readers understand three things. First: all my data is from the daily coronavirus tracker in the San Jose Mercury News Dec. 1, the San Benito County COVID-19 website, and the official COVID websites of the states of Texas and South Dakota, and the CDC. Second, I want to make sure all of you understand that I in no way shape or form am trying to “play down” anyone’s death or suffering from the virus. I pray daily for all people who are suffering from, fighting against, or have been negatively affected by the virus, and I know that these are real people and that everyone who has died was someone’s parent, child, sibling, or loved one. I also want to make sure that others who are suffering as a result of the government’s response to the pandemic be given the same respect. Everyone who has had to have an older relative die alone, everyone who has lost a business, everyone who has children being denied the school experience or sports, everyone who has been abused by a spouse or parent, everyone who has committed suicide, or is abusing drugs or alchohol as a result of lock downs. All suffering is equal, none is more or less important. ​​Third, I am not attempting to convince anyone of anything, but as I used to tell my students “If you give me a fish I eat for a day, but if you teach me to fish, I eat for a lifetime.” So I am going to teach you to fish, by showing you how to use the COVID stats to make informed decisions, based upon actual facts and numbers and not the opinion of someone.

I am going to teach you how to calculate four sets of statistics. First is the case fatality rate, this is calculated by taking the # of COVID deaths, and divide it by the # of COVID cases. This yields a decimal which you multiply by 100 to convert to a %. The second is the infection rate. This is calculated by taking the # of positive COVID tests divided by the total population, then again multiply by 100. The third is the death by population figure. This is calculated by taking the # of COVID deaths divided by the population and again multiply by 100. The last is the excess death rate. Taking the total number of deaths from all causes and divide it by the average number of deaths from all causes, and multiply by 100.

I will do this for San Benito County to teach you how, then give you some other figures so you can learn to do it yourself, which can help you make informed decisions about the virus.

First the infection rate, what is the chance I will get infected in San Benito County?

Infection rate 1893 positive tests divided by 62,808 residents = .030X by 100 = 3.0% This means that 97% of all San Benito County residents currently have no physical connection to the virus.

Second the case fatality rate, if I do get infected what is the chance I will die from COVID?

SBC case fatality 16 deaths divided by 1893 positive tests =.0084 X by 100 = .84% This means that 99.16% of all San Benito County residents who test positive will recover from COVID.

Next the death by population rate, what is the chance that I will both test positive and die from COVID?

Death by population 16 deaths divided by 62,808 people = .00025 X by 100 = .03% This means that 99.97% of all San Benito County residents will not die from COVID.

Now I will give you numbers from four other areas, first the state of California as a whole (a large state with lockdowns and mask mandates): # of positive COVID tests 11,197,458 # of COVID deaths 19,132

Population of California: 39,500,000

Next the United States as a whole: # of positive COVID tests 13,600,000 # of COVID deaths 268,000

Total U.S. population: 382,200,000

Now compare the state of Texas (large state like California, they are not locking down, but do have a mask mandate): # of positive COVID tests 1,250,000, # of COVID deaths 21,900

Total population of Texas: 29,000,000

Now the State of South Dakota (no lockdowns, no mask mandate): # of positive COVID tests 80,464 # of COVID deaths 946

Total population of South Dakota: 884,659

Now that you know how to “fish” you can make informed decisions about travel, what you are willing to do, etc. If you have to travel, go online and check out the state, city or county you need to go to and get the numbers, once you know how to do the calculations it’s easy. Do some of your own research and don’t just “accept” what you are being told on TV, or the internet, or by me. Research states with the strictest COVID rules, like Washington, Illinois, New York, and New Mexico, and compare them to the states with the least restrictive rules, like South Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, and Mississippi. Find out what the real truth is and draw your own conclusions. The last one I will share with you is the excess death rate, it’s pretty complicated so I will “give you a fish” again.

Again I am not trying to convince you of anything except to look closely at these figures and make your own conclusions and assumptions. I would like to address a couple of issues, first the total will go up daily so this is a one day look, but so do the recoveries, and then there is an issue of dying with COVID as opposed to dying of COVID. So I want to show the excess mortality rate for the whole United States. This is a little more complicated. On average 2.88 million people die in the U.S. each year from all causes. As of Nov. 23, 2.55 million had died. There are 36 days left in the year so I used the CDC number of an average of 1,500 dying each day from COVID X by 36 and got 54,000 people (again I know these are real people and am not trying to pretend they aren’t). If you take the 2.88 million people and divide it by 365 = 7,671 people should die on average each day in the U.S. from all causes, X by 36 and you get 276,164 deaths. Now add that to the 54,000 from COVID and that is 330,164 deaths between now and the end of the year. If you add that to the 2.55 million who have died you get almost exactly 2.88 million meaning statistically no extra people will die in the U.S. this year even with COVID. How can that be explained? Again I am not trying to make an argument only give you some facts to consider.

It is absolutely critical that as citizens we know and understand the real risks, the real facts, the real numbers so that we can make an informed decision about our families, and lives as they relate to COVID. As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently stated “Well informed laymen make up the foundation of a healthy democracy.”

Respectfully submitted, Randy Logue

Randy Logue