I read a terrible article in the Seattle Times yesterday. It’s not just that it was bad – it was misleading and actually dangerous. The article stated that the BLM protests have nothing to do with the recent rise in COVID-19 infections in Washington State. As my kids would say… “Hubba Wha?!?!”
The excuses are ridiculous. “I would say that outside makes a big difference because of much more air circulation,” said a vice dean at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health (who also took part in the protests). Do you think he may have been justifying his risky behavior?
The article also cites research that hasn’t been peer-reviewed from the National Bureau of Economic Research: “protests prompted more stay-at-home behavior by those who didn’t go to the protests.” What? More than the lockdown? I don’t buy this one bit. What about the behavior of the protesters – not wearing masks, yelling and chanting. Do you think that could spread a virus that resides in the throat and lungs?
Researchers also said that <5% of cases were from people who attended protests. Again, researchers are looking at the wrong thing. If you were reading this blog, you know that the real risk is not from the young, healthy protesters. They likely didn’t bother getting tested and were asymptomatic. The risk is when those people go home and infect others, including potentially their parents and grandparents. And if that indeed is the transmission workflow, it would take about 10 days to show up in the data from the date of the protests.
Speaking of data, let’s use that. Infections began increasing about 10 days after the protests began in King County. It certainly isn’t due to Phase 2, which didn’t begin for another 3 weeks after the protests and ~10 days after the rise in infections began.
So, the protests are the most likely cause of the recent spike in infections – NOT phase 2.
I do believe that widespread adoption of masks will cause a dramatic change in the R0 and thus the number of infections. Goldman Sachs published research that a national mask mandate could increase GDP by 5%. It certainly is more preferable than a lockdown.
Inslee went ahead and did that for Washington State last week. I think it will have a positive impact and should start showing up in the data soon. I think there could be a sharp decline next week in infections, even though there will be some get-togethers for Independence Day. But, that also assumes people will listen to Inslee. My anecdotal evidence: over 90% of people were wearing masks at the grocery store this weekend vs. about 2/3 the previous week. I think it will work.
Ok, let’s get to why you are actually here: What is the prediction for infections tomorrow? The Polynomial model is gaining steam and predicting 102. I think it’s going to be pretty close. If I’m right and masks work, that means I’m going to have to build another new model to chart the upcoming decline. No end in sight so far though.