No refuge in the numbers

Filed under: covid, news — jlm @ 20:41

The State of California, like several other states, has applied an unprecedented “shelter in place” directive to its population to stem the spread of SARS-2. This is a huge cost on the psychological well-being of the citizenry, on their human rights of movement and association, and on the economy, in order to avoid incurring even greater costs in lives lost, reduction in health, and the resulting psychological and economic trauma. Now, after over a week of this, has there been any luck at reducing the spread of the disease? I have no real sense one way or the other. So I went and grabbed the data on the number of cases from March 11th onward from the state Department of Public Health and plotted the infection rate (ratio of new cases to prior cases) since then:

plot of California's COVID infection rate

(data is only up to yesterday because the Department publishes a day’s case facts the next day)

I have no idea what to make of this, so I still have no real sense one way or the other whether it is working. The 18th and 19th are weird outliers, but I double-checked the data for the 17th−20th, and if the graph is wrong then the state’s numbers are. I wish I could draw a conclusion from this, but I can’t.


  1. Take 3/19 and split in half and you apply the half to 3/18. That’s how you can normalize the data. I see this all the time with double billing on electricity bills. You typically should expect to see smaller number on weekends because hospital administration stop working. Then you surge a the following Monday & Tuesday. It is just how the data is collected and counted. CDC is now specimen testing will be based on when CDC receives it not when it was collected from the patient. It is a subtle but important change which means counts will be based on FedEx can deliver packages not when it was collected.


    Note: As of March 12, the dates associated with the specimens tested by CDC Labs have been updated to reflect the date the specimen was received by CDC, instead of when they were collected from the patient. Use of the specimen received date better reflects when specimens became available for testing by the CDC Labs.


    Comment by sun — 31-Mar-2020 @ 12:24

  2. You can also chart it using this:

    This is from OurWorldInData

    Comment by sun — 31-Mar-2020 @ 12:38

  3. Hello to all
    In this puzzling continuously, I love you all
    Appreciate your strain and friends

    Comment by PresleyRal — 12-Apr-2020 @ 04:53

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