Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Governor DeWine Suppresses Data Disproving COVID-19 Policies

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This is credited to Jack Windsor with WMFD-TV in Mansfield. To read the report in its entirety, follow the link at the bottom of this post.

Ohio Governor DeWine, Director of Health Acton and Lt. Governor Husted started handling the Coronavirus outbreak with faulty modeling,
while ignoring critical real-time data. Now the trio suppresses critical data. Ohioans:  aware, enraged and bracing to fight for the truth.

The backdrop

COVID-19 first made an indelible mark on Ohioans when Governor Mike DeWine canceled the 2020 Arnold Sports Festival, which was
schedule to start March 5.  On March 16, Governor DeWine backed a lawsuit seeking to
postpone the primary election scheduled for the next day. The suit was filed by Ohioans who feared voting in person would expose voters and poll workers to COVID-19.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Fry declined to postpone the election, but Fry’s decision did not stop DeWine. In the late hours of election eve, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton declared a healthcare emergency to force polls closed. The emergency powers are granted by the Ohio Revised Code and have been in effect since March 16. 

Early data flawed

Nearly a week before the stay-at-home order was issued, Imperial College epidemiologist Neil Ferguson modeled the COVID-19 outbreak. Ferguson’s model became the point of reference for leaders across the globe, influencing lockouts and sheltering policies.

Ferguson himself backtracked on his model’s accuracy just weeks later after the projections tanked. The swing and miss on COVID-19 is not Ferguson’s first projection whiff.  Ferguson predicted 200 million would die from the bird flu in 2005--deaths totaled 455. In 2009 Ferguson predicted 65,000 people would die in the U.K. from swine flu—the death toll was 392.

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton delivered early projections and modeling based on Ferguson’s wildly inaccurate Imperial College model.  Acton guessed 100,000 Ohioans were already infected when she introduced her modeling. She also projected the COVID outbreak would peak in April and overwhelm hospitals, produce 62,000 new cases a day and infect 40% to 70% of Ohioans. Like Ferguson’s model, Acton’s projections were exponentially inaccurate.

Early data ignored

Whether willfully or ignorantly, important information was ignored.  The information that could have been used to direct public policy and mitigation strategies.  Informationout of Italy and China revealed two critical factors DeWine and Acton could have used to laser-focus their response to Coronavirus: 1) people aged 79 and older with other diseases are most at risk for serious health outcomes, especially death; 2) People above 30 with high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease were at accelerated risk, though much lower than risks to the age ranges 60-80 years and older. No one below 30 died from Coronavirus.   This information was clear even before Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton signed the first stay-at-home order.

The perils of economic fallout and sheltering-in-place were also documented for consideration as the administration formed policies.  After the first SARS outbreak, Studieson the secondary impact to mental health showed serious distress among
those quarantined, causing PTSD and depression when the sick were quarantined for just two weeks or less. 

Suppressed data:

Daily death totals During each presser, Amy Acton will review the Ohio COVID-19
dashboard. You may note that Acton reports deaths as “deaths reported in the last 24 hours."  Deaths reported in the last 24 hours are different
than the actual number of deaths in the last 24 hours.  The number reported is almost always inaccurate and inflated because it includes deaths over several days, perhaps as far back as January.

The practice of using “reported” data causes the public to perceive more cases and more deaths than are occurring in the present. The practice is confusing the press, the public and at times even the Governor and Dr. Acton seem confused.

On May 23, the Ohio Department of Health indicated there were 84 reported deaths over the past 24 hours. However, the real number of deaths totaled seven (7), a difference of 77.

This 77 death inaccuracy was found only after reviewing the CSV file available for download on the statedashboard site.  The CSV file lists the accurate daily number of deaths—and can be found after much digging. 

R-naught of COVID-19 in general population
The r-naught factor is a number indicating viral infectiousness. The r-naught (often expressed as R0) tells you how many people will, on average, be infected by one infected person. For example: if COVID-19 had an R0 of four, one infected person would, on average, infect four other people.

The r-naught of COVID-19 has become a data point of interest during Governor DeWine’s daily pressers. Acton projects COVID-19 had an original r-naught of between 2.5 to 5.0. Acton and DeWine reported a current r-naught of 1 during one press conference and .8 during another.
DeWine warns if the r-naught ascends above the 1.0-1.2 range, it will set off alarm bells.

Translated: an r-naught above 1.2 could trigger a rollback—shuttering businesses, locking Ohioans out of public spaces, further slowing a re-opening, while increasing pressure to comply with backdoor controls such as testing and contact tracing.

Given the importance of this measure, it makes sense to dig into how it is reported. Not every part of the state has the same demography, population density, and the potential for a high secondary surge.  The now famous ping pong ball commercial is a powerful visual, but it is based on faulty assumptions.  

Nursing home deaths

Just two weeks ago Amy Acton estimated death rates in nursing homes comprised approximately 20% of the Ohio death toll. As reporters and citizen journalists investigated that claim, it was discovered that confirmed deaths were double Acton’s estimate.  Continued digging reveals that, as of May 21, confirmeddeaths in nursing homes total 79% of the state total.

The errors seem to stem from mixing data sets, slow responses and an overall lack of focus on critical information. Failing to dive deep into data provided by nursing homes and other congregate care facilities may account for the utterly irresponsible handling of nursing home infections.

Mixing data sets from congregate settings (information specific to nursing homes and other congregate facilities) for reporting and consideration bypassed a crucial step in checks and balances.  In fact, the mixing is a fatal error.

Nursing homes and prisons produce extremely disproportionate infection rates—and disproportionate deaths in the case of nursing homes.

Average age of death

During nearly every press conference from March through May, Acton would state “average age of cases was about 50” but she has yet to publicly say that the average age of death is 81.

Why? A legislator, who wishes to remain anonymous says “they [Ohio Department of Health] don’t want information that would cause people to not obey their orders.” 

Lake County Judge Eugene Lucci’s decision

Lucci’s decision was treated like anything else that challenges the Governor’s direction, DeWine downplayed a court decision during the Thursday, May 21 press conference. DeWine said that all the decision did was shorten mandates by six days. Common Pleas Judge Eugene Lucci actually said:

"The director (Acton) has no statutory authority to close all businesses, including the plaintiffs’ gyms … She has acted in an impermissibly arbitrary, unreasonable, and
oppressive manner without any procedural safeguards.” 

TheJudge ruled unconstitutional DeWine and Acton’s rules that shut down businesses and kept people locked in their homes.

The phrase “all businesses” means just that—all businesses.  

This is Jack Windsor with WMFD-TV in Mansfield. My question is for the Governor: Sir, when will the administration target real issues
instead of applying a one-size-fits-all approach and crossing their fingers?

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