COVID-19? Ask an Actuary

Final projections that I will set forth here: by Election Day 2020, the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. will have exceeded 275k. By the close of 2020, that number will exceed 340k. And if the Trump regime remains beyond January 2021, then the ultimate U.S. death toll directly related to the coronavirus will exceed 2.2 million. Ask an actuary.

I will continue to study and project and journal on my own, privately. But as I anticipated as early as March, the U.S. government has decided that “greatness” can only be maintained by its ruler only through working vigorously not only to hide data, but to literally manipulate and modify the facts to fit the government’s lies. Should have been that this would be the one opponent that Trump could not bully or lie about: a death is a death, straight black and white. But already, the only way you can see most clearly how far down the U.S. has gone is to simply count the obituaries, now versus pre-Trump; and before long, that too will be covered up and manipulated to serve the selfish political and financial interests of one man and his cronies.

So now the Trump regime is seeking to re-classify the cause of death for those lost to its ineptitude? The true primary cause of death of nearly 200k Americans already, and counting, is and will remain: Trump.
[ARL 2020 Sep 1 8:04am]


No, Mr. Trump, the case fatality rate is not the most reliable measure of mortality during an active phase of a fast-spreading pandemic. And even if it were of any practical value, the United States is not “at the bottom of the list.” Not even close. (Hint: The only way we can even very briefly, quite temporarily reach the bottom of that list would be to require mass maskless crowded virus spreading events — clue: think “schools” — so we get a huge jump in cases that have not yet spilled into the inevitable deaths.)

Ask an actuary.

But again, he won’t. Re-election alone matters. A hundred thousand more deaths by Election Day? “It is what it is,” according to our unsympathetic ruler. And so we rely on political hacks and conspiracy theories to guide our analysis and our policies. Except that the coronavirus is one opponent that can’t be bullied or insulted away by the continual stream of lies being spread by the White House. The only list we are aiming to be at the very bottom of is in the quality of the life we were supposed to have been guaranteed by our Constitution.

[ARL 8/7/2020 9:05am]


”Young people are almost immune to this disease.” — Trump 7/30/2020

Wrong!!! Again, like so many lies already spread by the White House, not even close to being the truth.

Ask an actuary.

Once again, the White House won’t. They’ll listen to a chief of staff with less than zero knowledge of pandemic and pandemic-affected economy and child immunology, and they’ll listen to their trade representative, and they’ll listen to political hacks. But they won’t listen to the doctors and the scientists, much less seek sound actuarial advice.

And no, even the weasel word “almost” doesn’t spare the U.S. ruler’s statement from being a lie. And a very dangerous lie.

Finally, I’m going to sharpen my pencil to increase my U.S. COVID-19 mortality prediction (which since we were at low 70k during the spring, I had set at 180k through Sep 30), since the leadership vacuum in the White House has in the past month turned the corner to lethal misinformation. I’m expecting I’ll now be coming in to at least 190k by Sep 30, perhaps as high as 200k by then. And many of the deaths will now be children and parents of schoolchildren and teachers and school staff and bus drivers. And “almost” – to borrow the White House wording – all of the responsibility for any excess mortality over previous forecasts ought be placed directly at the doorstep of the White House.

[ARL Aug 1 2020 8:01]


The United States does not have the “lowest mortality rate” from COVID-19. Not even close!

Ask an actuary.

The White House won’t. Like his sharpie re-writing of weather forecasts, the U.S. ruler will continue to fabricate fake science created by political hacks who don’t have a grasp of the most basic math of pandemic mortality, much less seek sound actuarial advice.

And no, it won’t simply disappear. And no, he is not right, nor will he be.

[ARL 2020 Jul 20 7:10]


Second surge? Not really. The spread of the virus in the U.S. has merely moved from the region that has brought it under control to regions that still show little political backbone to adopt the measures necessary to bring the country’s public health under control.

Actually, several states are seeing a second wave. Notably, Louisiana suffered a first surge largely due to Mardi Gras celebrations held before the plague was taken seriously; and now, after bringing its caseload down to manageable levels, the state is seeing cases spike once again after relaxing its guard too early and too fast. To a lesser degree, the state of Washington, Oregon and even Hawaii are facing threats of resurgence; and the central I-95 corridor from New Jersey south through Virginia might be the next to experience upward infection trends.

But the major forces behind the national trends have come from two very divergent sets of states that have behaved very differently throughout the course of the pandemic: states hit hard early which have then brought their caseloads under control, versus states which have lost control over the spread.

Let’s illuminate the distinction between the two by simplifying the picture down to only two representative states, one from each of those two sets: New York versus Texas. With their data combined, the chart of new COVID-19 cases looks a lot like the national chart, appearing to show a first surge that then seems to recede in apparent compliance with CDC guidelines permitting re-opening, but now followed by a second surge —

NY+TX 2020.07.17

Except that it’s not a second tsunami on the same beach. Two different shores, with the lifeguards AWOL on the second beach. New York saw the first surge, then has brought the pandemic under control and kept it under control. In contrast, Texas never had sufficient reason to re-open, yet relaxed anti-spread measures too quickly without pausing to gauge the damage of its moves, then has fought local attempts to bring the pandemic back down, so has no control over its spread —

NY&TX 2020.07.17

We see here the danger of using averages and combined data for situations such as this. If two separate cars are nearing a cliff, one traveling 10 mph and the other traveling 110 mph, calculating an average speed of 60 mph doesn’t tell us how to keep both from disaster. Likewise, if the first car already has its foot hard on the brake while the second has its foot to the floor on the accelerator, a chart like the first one above illustrating the combined speed of both cars won’t do. So while TV viewers across the U.S. will be treated with the same countrywide chart seeming to show two surges, the typical person is not an “average” person or an “aggregate” person: either you live in New York, and after a harrowing spring of deprivation and sacrifice you are now carefully relaxing and moving forward toward a growing economy and healthy life; or else you live in Texas, and although you may have felt that you too sacrificed through your spring, you began partying too fast and furious, and now you’re heading straight for a cliff at breakneck speed proud of your supposed freedom to do so, dooming yourself to a limping economy that can’t fly off that cliff with more and more of your population taking two-week quarantine breaks, more and more spending time in the hospital, more and more dying.

[ARL 2020 Jul 18 12:52]


”It’s a special place, great people and they’ve done really well, really well with the virus and with every other thing.
They’ve really done an incredible job.”
                   — Trump 2020 Jul 16, speaking of Georgia

Umm, not. Our ruler ought seriously spend less time reading conspiracy tweets and consulting with his trade rep for pandemic progress reports and pay more attention to his health experts. Georgia never came close to meeting what were published as the “President’s” guidelines. On that same day that he spent taxpayer dollars to campaign in what his failed leadership has turned into a battleground state, the chart below shows the truth of how “incredible” Georgia has been with the pandemic. Let’s hope other states don’t do as “really well, really well,” particularly since Georgia hasn’t seen the worst of it, given its governor’s fight against his own state’s attempts to bring the Trump Plague under control.

GA New Cases 2020.07.17

Just yesterday, Trump repeated the foolish and dangerous lie that blames the surge in COVID-19 cases on an increase in testing. Cut testing in half as he suggested, and no no no no no! the number of cases is not cut in half; all you’ve done then is to increase our ignorance of the real number of current cases (which is there whether you test or don’t) and to increase the risk of further surging. [ARL 2020 Jul 16 17:16]
 

SE USA Deaths 2020.07.12

During the past two months since mid-May. I have been occupied with moving to our new residence, some intensive home projects, extensive explorations with Notion and other diversions. And continuing to watch and study the coronavirus pandemic, albeit without adding to my records here in this weblog. Now, resuming (this time with the aid of my Notion archives) —

  1. Still Projecting 180k through September 30 — In early May when the U.S. death count was around 72k and our ruler was all too cheery to under-estimate our ultimate toll as 80k to at most 100k, I raised own projection to 180k through September 30 (and I’ll keep my statement to that effect in place below at least for now). Now that premature re-openings have badly stumbled and several well-known forecasts are hinting at 200k by mid-autumn, I have been tempted to raise my prediction. Yet I’ve been back to my modeling continuously through the past two months, and … well, in short, for the moment I am sticking with my early May forecast, at most now characterizing that as a floor, an optimistic estimate that I would not be too surprised to see exceeded, but which for now will remain intact: 180,000 U.S. deaths through September 30.
     
  2. Proliferation of Blatant Lies and Dangerous Misinformation — I realize it becomes increasingly difficult to fabricate supporting “facts” and to twist numbers when the pandemic has been so badly mismanaged that it ought to be renamed the Trump Plague, but seriously, some of the messages being disseminated by our rulers ought be directly charged with responsibility for the unnecessary deaths and hardships the U.S. is suffering for the sake of political expediency. No, the U.S. can not claim any significantly better mortality experience than most other nations; in fact, considering the resources we ought to have had at our disposal, we are near the worst. (Ask an actuary.) And no, the number of new U.S. cases didn’t really decline then start to swell in a so-called “second wave.” Rather, we have what always happens when you combine two divergent trends, for instance if you combine numbers from a fast-cooling item with one that is gradually being heated, then act as though they are only a single object. The pandemic has been brought under control in the northeast corridor — in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the other states from Maryland up through Rhode Island and Massachusetts. But the pandemic never peaked in the south, rather merely plateaued, then began spiking up from that plateau once the south decided to rush to re-open, relying on national trends that were finally receding due to New York’s success. Back in March, the south could frequently be heard pushing the northeast off into a corner: “We’re not New York.” Well, take the northeast away from the charts, and from new cases to active cases to deaths (as charted above), one finds at most a plateau leading to the current spike, with scarcely any sign of the initial peak that was supposed to have been in place prior to re-opening. And then one of the most egregious lies: no, testing does not make a person contract the virus, as is the strong message conveyed by the too-oft-repeated claim that the reason why the pandemic is out of control in the U.S. is because too many tests are being conducted. Ban the tests outright, and the ICU units would be overwhelmed within a fortnight, and the death count would skyrocket worse than is already about to happen.

[2020 Jul 11 10:08]


US Serious/Critical Active 05.08
Update — I have increased my projection of the U.S. death toll through September 30 to
180,000
(Current U.S. death toll as of prediction update: 72,293)

IOW, contrary to U.S. Administration’s politically motivated assessment, the U.S. has not successfully dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. And failure to recognize that fact will only make the situation worse and lead to more deaths, more disabilities, more loss of economic power, and further failed leadership.

[ARL · 2020 may 6 CDST 8:20]

The United States now has more than 1 million active COVID-19 cases. The peak for that crucial metric remains completely elusive, disappearing into the swamp of ill-advised, politically motivated, premature re-openings. And as illustrated in the header graph, serious and critical COVID-19 cases — requiring hospital beds, special equipment, special medications and additional hospital personnel — continues to rise apace with the active cases. Yet partisan policies being pursued by the Administration and too many states promise only to increase the load on the medical community, with little sign of relief.

The Administration’s highest boundary in the range for its most recent guess at the cumulative death toll — 100,000 deaths — will be breached by Memorial Day, once again passing that mark at a pace near or above the pace experienced during April. IOW, in little more than 3 months COVID-19 will have caused the deaths of more Americans than the Hong Kong flu caused over the course of two full flu seasons in 1968 and 1969, forcing coronavirus deniers who keep shifting their no-worse-than-flu propaganda to roll out yet another excuse for failing to recognize the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Already the Administration is openly using its own poor guesses to attempt to undermine confidence in health officials and the more reliable models that warn against further spread of the coronavirus. And already the Administration is setting up scapegoats to blame for its continued failure to provide coherent, consistent and effective leadership against the pandemic. By June, the Administration will be putting pressure on U.S. health authorities to re-categorize cases and deaths to artificially restate the counts to lower levels thought to be more politically palatable. Yet the coronavirus will continue to spread unchecked, eventually reaching the most remote rural counties that currently feel themselves to be immune.

Further comments are being assembled in my Personal Notes & Observations.

[ARL · 2020 may 10 CDST 20:40]

In Development — This post remains in a highly dynamic phase, with daily additions made throughout most of its pages. Nothing herein will ever be complete.
[ARL · 2020 apr 9 – may 11]

Ask an ActuaryWhat is the future of our COVID-19 pandemic? How long will we be at risk of it invading our community? What will the social and economic consequences of the crisis be?

As I’ve so often advised, “Ask an actuary.”

Even after one month at this personal project, this particular actuary has not yet seen all the data he would need for knowing sufficient facts, for building a credible model, nor for studying this immensely complex issue enough to respond much beyond knowing when to roll his eyes at the overly optimistic political grandstanding that sarcastically predicts zero from some miracle just around the corner or to dismiss out-of-hand apocalyptic prophesies that see this as the end of the world as we’ve known it. [ARL 2020 Apr 25 CDST 17:26]

From the beginning of March 2020, I’d wanted to at least be in position to bring those extreme outer boundaries in closer toward at least some degree of confidence in any response I myself might give. On March 25, I was finally goaded into personal action of my own upon seeing a semi-log graph of COVID-19 cases. This weblog post with its various pages and its associated posts represent the visible portion of a quickly bulging private project to collect some of what I would need to formulate some answers, with an eye toward having something to say by the time the whole experience is history.

So, then (as will be edited heavily and added to daily from now until further notice) …

  • Actuarial Briefs & Studies — Relevant material published by actuarial organizations.
  • Pensions & Other Employee Benefits — Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on employer-sponsored benefit programs.
  • Legislation, Regulations and Pronouncements — Official actions adopted by governments and other authorities.
  • Documents — Reports, publications and other documents.
  • Deaths — Individuals whose deaths were caused by or related to COVID-19.
  • Sources — Authorities and others to whom I look for reliable information and data.
  • Personae — Persons and organizations with a role in the COVID-19 drama.
  • Gazette — Timeline of certain happenings relevant to the pandemic.
  • Dialectic — Vocabulary, terms of art and principles of the practice.
  • Personal Notes — My own explorations on the topic.
  • Index — Directory of information assembled within this project.
Disclaimer — Any analysis, comment, conclusions or other content herein is completely of a personal nature intended for the private use of the author. It should not be represented nor used as actuarial or other professional advice. Links to other websites do not connote endorsement of the content of those sources.
not the future expected
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