The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Murray's Model

As the COVID-19 crisis becomes increasingly politicized, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media continually tell us that anyone who argues that "the COVID-19 mitigation cure may become worse than the disease" doesn't care about "lives." On the other hand, it appears that the Dems and their media hamsters don't give a damn about tens of millions of workers (mostly blue collar) who are now out of work due to government stay-at-home edicts.

Mitigation efforts for COVID-19, including a shutdown of a significant percentage of the U.S. economy and an overwhelming percentage of some business segments (e.g. restaurants, retail stores) may create lasting and dangerous economic damage if they continue for additional months. The Dems, it appears, are perfectly willing to continue the shutdown and (gleefully) have already begun the drumbeat that Trump's "new" economy is a mess. Hmmm. You'd almost think that they want the economy in ruins in the third quarter. I wonder why?

Federal and state leadership tell us that they're listening to medical experts and will re-open the economy when the experts tell us it's okay. The experts rely on models that project COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. There's only one catch, the models are far from perfect and in some case, quite inaccurate.

Daniel Payne writes:
A Web site that tracks actual hospital beds in use suggests the model used by top White House health officials to project the trajectory of the coronavirus has so far overestimated the number of Americans hospitalized by the disease by tens of thousands.

Those projections, popularly known as the "Murray" model after the model's lead author, University of Washington professor Christopher Murray, were explicitly cited by Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, at a press conference in the last week.

Birx told reporters that Murray's model, which predicts a shortage of tens of thousands of hospital beds throughout the country by the middle of April, underscored the task force's "concern that we had with the growing number of potential fatalities" based on the model's projections.

Yet a comparison of actual hospitalized patients by state and nationally suggests the model has so far overestimated the number of beds needed to treat pandemic patients.

The forecast predicted, for example, that the United States would need around 164,750 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients on Saturday. Yet the COVID Tracking Project, a team of journalists and data analysts who collect and tabulate coronavirus data from state tallies around the country, reported only around 22,158 currently hospitalized coronavirus patients nationwide on Saturday.

The discrepancies are also stark when looked at on a state-by-state basis. The model estimated that 65,434 patients would need hospital beds in New York State on Friday. In reality, there were 15,905 hospitalizations in that state by Sunday morning, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Notably, the model touts its predictions as occurring under "full social distancing" through May of this year, meaning the projected hospitalizations are meant to occur even with significant quarantine measures.
When Gov. Cuomo of New York told us that his experts had models that predicted the need for 40,000 ventilators, I began to become suspicious. That number seemed inordinately large and conveniently impossible to accommodate. Was the need real or was it, how can I put this delicately, a number chosen to ensure that the current administration would "fail" to fulfill it? One can't be sure, but let's assume best intentions by Cuomo—maybe it was just a modeling error, much like the above referenced error associated with hospitalizations.

But if that's true, it's reasonable to assume that the need for ventilators is directly proportional to the number of hospitalizations. And if that's true, let's do a little math. Here's the ratio of actual hospitalizations to predicted hospitalizations in NY:

15,905 / 65,434 = 0.243

In essence the models were off by 75 percent. Stated another way, we needed about 1/4 of the hospital beds the models predicted through this past weekend. And if that's the case, it reasonable to assume we'd need about 1/4 of the ventilators predicted:

40000 * 1/4 = 10,000

Gosh, isn't that close to the number of ventilators that the feds actually supplied to NY?

The moral of this story is that models are only as accurate as the algorithms that they contain and the assumptions that constrain them. The experts who rely on them are not infallible. Donald Trump and the Governors of all 50 states should consider that carefully when they work to re-open our economy—sooner rather than later, if they really do care about lives—all lives.


Victor Davis Hansen (read the whole thing) is harsh in his treatment of the Democrats and the media when he writes:
For now, the media, Pelosi, and Biden, along with the Left in general, wish to perpetuate a sense of viral Armageddon to make it politically impossible for Trump to initiate a graduated plan of returning America to work. Their hope is for a summer and fall of continued lockdown, a near depression rather than a mere recession, and enough public furor to end Trump in November—while hoping that a sudden post-election end to the lockdown will allow the natural recovery of Trump’s booming economy on their watch in 2021.

Missing in all these calculations is empathy for those who are ill and the losses that such macabre expectations certainly entail. Also absent is a sense of the irony that, by unfairly scapegoating Trump in hours of darkness, they are ensuring that in the upcoming dawn, he will be credited by their same logic with owning what will likely be an impressive U.S. response to suppressing the virus and reviving the economy.
The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media continue their 3+ year struggle that somehow refuses to accept their loss in 2016. It appears they care little for the tens of millions who are now out of work and even less for the additional millions who have been driven to near-hysteria by relentless attacks that shake their faith in an administration that is competently (if not perfectly) dealing with an unprecedented threat. Their collective behavior has been and continues to be reprehensible. They do not deserve to lead.


As if to put an exclamation point of VDH's comments, a backbench Congresswoman from Ohio has suggested that Donald Trump has commited "crimes against humanity" for suggesting the hydroxychloroquine might be an affect treatment for COVID-19. The Hill reports:
Ohio state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D) said that she will make a “referral for crimes against humanity” over President Trump’s promotion of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, despite its unproven benefits and lack of long-term Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

“I can’t take it anymore. I’ve been to The Hague. I’m making a referral for crimes against humanity tomorrow,” Galonski tweeted late Sunday.

“Today’s press conference was the last straw," Galonski added. "I know the need for a prosecution referral when I see one.”
You just can't make this stuff up.

I'll admit that Galonski, in the long tradition of Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA), is so consumed with hatred of an elected president that she is acting in a truly insane manner. What's really scary is that I'm certain there are plenty of Dems who are cheering her on.