April 1, 2020

There goes Fox "News" again, taking full advantage of the stupidity and shallow thinking they've nurtured and developed in their viewing audience. Harris Faulkner is talking to their resident Doctor Barbie Nicole Saphier about the COVID-19 testing capabilities and mortality projections of the United States compared to other countries. Note, please, that her medical focus is radiology, and her political focus is blaming the victim, if one goes by her book title: "Make America Healthy Again: How Bad Behavior and Big Government Caused a Trillion-Dollar Crisis!"

So, take HER analysis for the microgram it's worth. But here she is, waxing faux-intellectual and romantic about how the projection of 100,000 - 200,000 dead from COVID-19 is not so bad. Sure, it is better than millions of U.S. citizens dying from it, but was that ever really a projection, as she claims? It reminds me of price tags during sales at stores like TJ Maxx. "$7.99! Compare to $34.99!" Okay, $8 is lower than $35, but was the t-shirt ever actually priced at $35?

SAPHIER: I do want to make a point that all these numbers, 100, 200,000, are still extremity grim. That's a tenth of what they were predicted be about a month ago before the social distance measures were taken into effect. They were projecting it could be anywhere from one to two million Americans that could die. So, yes, the 100 to 200,000 Americans is still a devastating number. However, my hope is that we won't get to that number.

We all hope that, but realism and facts, accepting responsibility for past mistakes and committing to do better in the future is the best way to avoid it, if it's even possible. Frankly, chance are, given the slow response, and the refusal of people in charge to traffic in accurate numbers and information is a guarantee that we will zoom past those numbers in no time. Fox and its "doctors" and "experts" aren't helping by screwing and skewing the numbers like so:

SAPHIER: They can -- we have to point out we are also doing more testing than anywhere else in the world, and huge thing that I really want to point out is the death rate in the United States is the lowest of most of the countries. That has to do with the fact that we are doing a lot of testing and that we do have a robust health care system. These fatality rates still being reported, it's about 1.4% globally, closer to 2% being reported right now in the United States. 10%, 11%, and Italy and Spain, they still remain grossly overestimated because there's a large amount of the population who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms who have not been tested. So these numbers do not take into account those people that have not been tested.

No shame for people for not being great with numbers and ratios and math stuff. I'm not great at them, either. Yet, statements like "we are doing a lot of testing," or "more testing than anywhere else in the world" are neither informative nor helpful. They need to be put into something called perspective. Let's use this example:

The U.S. tests 101 people. Boy, that's a lot! But we have 350,000,000 people.
South Korea tests 100 people. Boy, that's a lot! But S. Korea has 51,000,000 people — 1/7th the number we have.

Yet, President Cheez-It can go on TV and say, "We've tested more people than South Korea, even! So many people we've tested! No one has ever seen this much testing, beautiful testing, even!" But per capita, South Korea has tested a much higher number. A much higher percentage of its population has been tested for COVID-19, and much sooner after the first case was discovered. They tested thousands of citizens per day, whereas we were lucky to have tested dozens per day just a a few weeks ago.

Is our death rate "the lowest of most of the countries?" Define lowest. Define "most of the countries." Or better yet, just turn off Fox "News."

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