PLEASANT HILL, APRIL 10, 2020 – The key question for all of us in Missouri is: What are the chances I’m going to get COVID-19.  Many simple projections are wrong.  At work this week I was involved in a conversation detailing the projection one of my co-workers heard.  The sensational radio commentator had made the comment that, on average, the positive results for COVID-19 were over 14% of those tested.

I looked it up.  He is both correct, and completely wrong.  He is correct that the average is 14.8% of all the daily testing numbers.  The problem is that the assumptions behind the numbers is flawed.  First error: Don’t average averages when comparing cumulative numbers.

The specifics show you quickly the error.  Starting on 3/8 and ending on 3/11 only one test was done.  It was positive for COVID-19.  Since there was only one test, the use of five days of 100% in the overall should not be considered five results, but only one test that had one positive result.

Looking at the numbers from 3/12/2020 there were a total of 65 tests, and only 1 positive result.  That gives us an overall overage for the 64 tests reported on 3/12 plus the 1 test reported on 3/8 for the first time, of 1.5 percent.  Yet, in a way that is even a bit deceiving.

On 3/12 there were 64 tests reported, and zero (0) positives for that day.  The daily number of positive results is zero (0) percent.

Look at the chart when we only see the new numbers reported each day.

Question:  What percent of the total population of Missouri has been tested?

Answer: The state of Missouri reported, as of 4/9/2020, 38,494 tests.  The population of the state is estimated at 5,988,927.  Looking at those numbers, only 0.64 percent of our population has been tested.  Putting that number into perspective I can understand, only 6.43 persons out of 1,000 have been tested, and only when they show symptoms that qualify them for testing.

Question: Who gets tested for COVID-19?

Answer: Those who exhibit symptoms or have been exposed to someone confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

Question:  Are these numbers skewed towards higher positives, since we start with the rule that Missouri is only testing suspected positives for COVID-19?

Answer:  If you are not testing randomly, if you are not testing the entire population and if you are only testing people you suspect of being infected by COVID-19, then the answer is: of course it has to be skewed.

Question:  Does this skewing of numbers affect the overall numbers for the US?

Answer:  If we only test those we believe to have the virus, then the answer must be a resounding Yes.

Question:  Does this testing bias mean that COVID-19 is blown out of proportion?

Answer: Absolutely not!  You must take the virus seriously, especially those with have underlying conditions that affect their health.  Let me put it this way, if someone handed you two packs of 100 pieces of your favorite candy, and they told you that one pack only had 1 piece of candy that could cost you  your life, but that the other pack is much worse, it has 10 pieces that are similarly affected:  Would you take either?  The most obvious answer is no, no one would. 

Question:  So, what’s the point you are trying to make?

Answer:  Caution and panic are two different things.  Hope and a positive nature allow you to take the necessary precautions and continue living a relatively normal life.  You evaluate every action against the potential risk.  You don’t see death at every door, in every corner, in every action.  You keep an appropriate respect for the virus in your area, and you properly evaluate every action, every option, and every new rule or regulation.  When you are in a panic (a level of high stress) you have one of three options: Fight, Flight or Submit.  The reality is that you don’t benefit from any of those three options.  We do not need to consider fighting right now, we do not need to run from the situation, and we certainly don’t need to consider submission to the situation.  We need to act reasonably with personal safety in mind.

If you find this helpful, share it so that others may see where we are in our fight against the spread of COVID-19.  You can see the raw data at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website.

Stay safe, stay healthy and most of all stay positive.
Respectfully Submitted
The Lee’s Summit Conservative