On Thursday March 19th, California governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order for all residents to “stay at home” because of the coronavirus outbreak. An article on CNBC written by Weizhen Tan and Riya Bhattacharjee summarize Newson’s reasoning as follows:

California estimates that more than half of the state — 25.5 million people — will get the new coronavirus over the next eight weeks, according to a letter sent by Gov. Gavin Newsom to U.S. President Donald Trump.

“In the last 24 hours, we had 126 new COVID-19 cases, a 21 percent increase. In some parts of our state, our case rate is doubling every four days,” Newsom wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. Newsom asked Trump to dispatch the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to the Port of Los Angeles through Sept. 1 to help with the influx of expected cases.

  At Thursday’s press conference, Newsom said, “We believe the virus will impact about 56% of California’s population … You do the math, that’s a particularly large number … We believe with a 20% hospitalization rate, that’s about 19,543 people that would need to be hospitalized – above the existing capacity of our system.”  (My italics)

 “We have 416 hospitals in CA, but within the hospital system we have a capacity to surge beyond the 78,000 currently staffed beds by an additional 10,000.”

I certainly approve  of “social distancing” as a means to curtail the spread of contagion. In fact, the last time I went to the gym was on March 9th and I haven’t gone anywhere other than to buy groceries (and toilet paper)  in the past two weeks.

I believe that a healthy dose of fear is not a bad thing, but I draw the line at anything that is designed to produce rampant panic.

I have been a CPA for almost 53 years, and I am cynical enough to know that numbers can be manipulated to say almost anything. As an aside here’s a useful tip. If you are ever looking to hire an accountant, ask each applicant “How much is 1+1?”. If they answer”2”, send them packing. The person you want will respond “How much do you want it to be?”

I also learned at an early age to have a great respect for decimal points. A misplaced decimal point can literally kill you. Imagine if your doctor prescribes a medication dosage of 3.6mg. pills and the pharmacist gives you 36mg. pills by mistake.

Around 1968, as a newly minted professional accountant, I was at a client‘s office where the controller had just taken delivery of a Wang 320 LED desktop calculator that cost several thousand dollars. He offered to demonstrate it to me. While I stood in awe in front of his desk, he phoned his bank in order to buy $1,000 in pesos to cover the cost of an upcoming vacation. He asked the manager for the exchange rate, punched a few numbers into the new machine, and placed his order. A few minutes later, the manager called to confirm whether the controller really wanted to purchase $100,000 in pesos!

I have read of cases where the published results of scientific experiments were proven to be erroneous because of a misplaced decimal point.

So, let’s look at Newsom’s numbers.

I have been following the progression of the coronavirus internationally on a website called Worldometers.info. (Now that the NBA season has been postponed and I can no longer follow team standings, I need another focus.)

Below are the statistics for the 10 countries with the most cases as of Saturday morning, March 21st. Please pay special attention to the last column that shows the number of cases per million inhabitants. Of all these 10 countries, the worst is Italy with 778 cases per million. The total number of cases worldwide is  currently estimated by Worldometers at about 287,000.

Let’s assume that California eventually incurs 1,000 cases per million. Based on an estimated population of 40 Million, this produces 40 x 1,000 = 40,000 cases. This would be  about half the number of cases currently  in China (population 1.4 BILLION) where the number of new cases is dropping quickly.

Newsom estimates that about 56% of California’s inhabitants will be affected. 56% of 40 million equals 22.4 million – not far off from his calculation of 25.5 million  cases. (Please see the second paragraph of this article)- but this number is nowhere close to 40,000!

In asking for help from President Trump (who dearly loves the State of California-not), Newsom estimates that 20% of cases will require hospitalization and that there are presently only 78,000 beds available, although another 10,000  could be added. Based on a  potential capacity of 88,000 beds, Newsom estimates a shortage of 19,543. In other words, the total number of beds required is 88,000 + 19,543, or 107,543.

Now, we can calculate the total number of  TOTAL potential cases using middle school algebra:

 Let “X’”= the total number of  potential cases of coronavirus in California

20% of “X” (the number requiring hospitalization) = 107,543

Therefore “X” = 107,543 divided by .20 = 537,515.

So, whether we are potentially dealing with 40,000 cases or 537,000 cases, it sure ain’t 25.5 million.

Based on the numbers recorded in China and the steps now being taken to reduce the spread of contagion, it seems to me that 40,000 (1,000 cases per million people) is the more likely ceiling. The table above shows the current level in the U.S.  (population 330 million) at  “only” 67 cases per million (330 x 67 =22,110). California’s total is currently 1,273 (less than 32 cases per million people) while New York has 10,356. The majority of cases are located in densely populated areas and healthcare professionals, as a group, face the greatest risk of infection.

In conclusion, I must tell you that, having lived most of my life in Canada ,(I am a dual citizen) I have no contacts to speak of in the U.S. As such, I cannot independently verify my conclusions. I am counting on you, the reader, to provide feedback.

If you concur with my analysis and have access to the mainstream media (CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times etc.) please forward this article. It would  certainly help if you can reach politicians at the Federal and state levels.

First, there was Trump who really did us all  a great disservice by sweeping the coronavirus  problem under the Oval Office carpet. Now, while the mitigating  steps being taken by many states, including California, are really warranted — as painful as they may be – we should not be exposed to outright fear mongering.

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59 Comments on "Excuse Me, But the California Governor’s Covid-19 Numbers Are Out to Lunch"

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Lone Wolf
Member

GOP plant, practicing fear mongering in a mask pretending to be in Canada.
instead of bashing Newsom outright, perhaps he has one of those newfangled calculators and got his decimal points off, eh?

Ursula Faw
Admin

Wow. Interesting reaction. I was hoping this would give people hope. But anything is possible, I suppose, in today’s world.

Lone Wolf
Member

I’m sorry maybe I missed something but that’s how I read it.

dina hutton
Guest

I didn’t read it that way.

Andrew
Guest

Really? You must be a true magat

Ursula Faw
Admin
Is this comment directed at me? Bottom line, Henry has been working with numbers and stats more years than the majority of Americans have been alive. I didn’t think it would hurt to look at these figures — and he may be wrong. My question pertains to Italy, and how the deaths are soaring there right now. We may not be able to accurately predict the spread of the virus, because we don’t fully understand it, and so stats may be useless. But it’s a good idea to go through the reasoning and look at the facts at hand, to… Read more »
Nemeton
Guest

Stats matter… I am disappointed to see this defended.
This is a reputable site that is tracking the virus.
https//coronavirus.1point3acres.com

Ursula Faw
Admin

Henry, there were 793 death in Italy on Saturday, which is 33 deaths an hour. Isn’t it possible that if the virus is concentrated in one area, in this case Northern Italy, that it can really tear through a population? I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking.

beadlady
Member
Newsom knows that we don’t have enough fucking tests. My daughter saw doctor three days ago. Doc said she has all the symptoms but fever. Not tested because she doesn’t fall into the risk factor. Fuck that. She is immune compromised galore. I have had a tight chest, dry cough for 3 weeks. I don’t know if I had it when I had all the symptoms but fever – not tested. REMEMBER: not everyone will get it severely. Newsom has to have an idea as to how many will actually get it. 56% sounds okay to me. But we will… Read more »
Ursula Faw
Admin
I am hoping that in your case, beadlady, that you already had the virus and you now have some immunity from it. I know your daughter has a medical condition which puts her at risk. Maybe you both are safe now and we don’t know it. That said, it is scary not to be able to get these tests. And WRT Newsom and what he can do — look Trump hates California. If we all dropped dead, he’d be just fine. I have confidence that Newsom has done what he can, and that’s the problem. Trump had knowledge of this,… Read more »
beadlady
Member
No tests – don’t know. If we didn’t have it – we’re more vulnerable then. I stay home a lot because I quilt, or make them every day. Hubby is working from home. Daughter is trying to not go nuts – she also has OCD. Not a germaphobe thank goodness. Howie Mandel at least gives us a laugh. My piss and vinegar is all directed at 45. All of it. His corruption, malignant narcissism has truly made everything worse. I said month after month, it’s going to get worse and here we are. What’s worse than people losing their lives?… Read more »
lauran
Member
Hi beadlady, Always read and respect your posts! You are one smart quilter indeed:-))) Hope you and family continue hanging in and doing well through this whole nightmare scenario. I’ve self isolated (stayed at home) for the last 10 days, and it is really quite an ordeal. Live in Oregon and our governor recommended “staying at home” unless it’s extremely important to go out for essentials. Seems reasonable and good advice to me. I sincerely hope your family is able to maintain and overcome the stress of isolation and, basically the social banishment, that is required. I’ve gotten more strongly… Read more »
beadlady
Member

Thank you very much. I just got a link to make a sacred space within the home. A home retreat. Then…I’m going to work on mindfulness. Plus Brene Brown put out a podcast. My daughter is the one I worry about. Diagnosed with OCD at 7. Not germaphobe but boy can the mind go nuts. I also have my dark (slave free) chocolate chips! It’s funny, but not a joke. That’s my fix. Been in the house for 3.5 weeks now, because I was sick. Virus?
https://jackkornfield.com/creating-a-home-retreat-finding-freedom-wherever-you-are-free-half-day-retreat-included/

https://brenebrown.com/unlockingus/

Blessings and care.

Nemeton
Guest

Ursula immunity is not known for sure this virus and in fact one of the thoughts is that a person might get it more than once with each attack weakening their resistance.

jasan
Guest

If a hen and a half, could lay an egg and a half in a day in a half, how many eggs could 7 chickens lay in 6 days?

beadlady
Member

Don’t do that to my feeble brain. How many?

jasan
Guest

Let Henry answer

beadlady
Member

You naughty boy. ):: I’ll take my feeble brain and keep quilting.

Elizabeth
Guest

A chuckle I remember from my youth, and we need some laughs – If a chicken can lay an egg and a half in a day in a half, how long will it take a grasshopper with a wooden let to kick all the seeds out of a dill pickle?
There. You’re eight years old again, for a second.

Janeto
Guest
I think that the numbers you present are off. Why? First, look at China where the vast majority of virus came from one city of 11million people. When you talk about numbers, it’s very intricate how you evaluate them. You should look at both what the percentages say in Wuhan as well as, overall total population. From there, things to consider are number of cases, testing being done, isolate in place orders, and a host of other reasons. Same goes for New York City etc etc. once it hits an area, the more densely populated, the numbers will surge. Start… Read more »
Steve787
Guest
I think Henry’s “How much do you want it to be?” is the operative phrase here. These kinds of estimates are only as good as all the assumptions necessary to make them. Most of the key assumptions depend on actually knowing the CURRENT COVID-19 infection situation. And because of lack of mass testing, we really don’t know what those numbers are at the moment. Another key assumption is the ongoing effect of mitigating efforts such as “shelter in place” mandates. I don’t know how Gov Newsom’s were actually determined but they are clearly intended as a scary, worst case picture… Read more »
Ursula Faw
Admin

I agree with Newsom’s logic in this. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. I’d rather live with a worse case scenario now — although it totally frosts me — than find myself waiting for treatment in a hospital that isn’t going to come, or come in time.

Steve787
Guest

Yes, I agree as well. It’s never a bad idea to at least look at possible worse case scenarios in motivating people to take action.

Richard Martin-Shorter
Guest
Richard Martin-Shorter
I don’t believe that “shelter in place” modifies the total number of expected cases – only the rate at which the new infections occur. If we use current US CFR and current Italian CFR as the respective CFRs of maximally treated and untreated caseloads, we see that the number of deaths in cases that exceed the bed capacity is about 7x-8x (9% vs 1.2%) the deaths experienced when all cases are treated fully, as is the current situation in U.S. Stretching out the time for all cases to occur allows us to keep the CFR on the total number of… Read more »
Steve787
Guest
You make some valid points about the eventual number of people that might contract this virus over time, but TIME is the key parameter here. The important goal of the shelter in place and social distancing is referred to as “flattening the curve.” This means keeping the daily number of cases from jumping dramatically, rapidly forming a tall peak that breaks through the critical line marking the capacity of the health care system. Too many cases too soon and they overwhelm the our medical infrastructure. As I mentioned previously, this is a threat to more than just people suffering from… Read more »
Denis Elliott
Member
A conversation with my (RN) sister this morning left me shaken and for more than one reason although it’s way too much to get into. I’m back checking out stuff and read both your article and the comments. My first observation is based on the old saying about lies, damned lies and statistics which is NOT meant to hurl an accusation at you. Rather, it’s a reminder to everyone that understanding a set of data and statistics derived from said date is frequently more nuanced or complex (and infuriatingly sometimes both at the same time!) that the second part of… Read more »
lauran
Member
Chances are very good that we aren’t getting the full story here in ‘Merica. The Orange Person sure as heck hasn’t given it to us from day one! Nor have his minions (with the exception of a few like Fauci, who actually has a brain and compassion). What makes you or me think he is all of a sudden going to change his algorithm? That the Claims of needing to abide by social distancing or common sense are infringements on our personal liberties is total gas-lighting and BS! Unless you are among those who say let the “Olds Die”, or… Read more »
p j evans
Member

And a doctor has disassembled the first half of the story that was online this morning, by Ginn.
https://twitter.com/CT_Bergstrom/status/1241522140559503360

p j evans
Member
anastasjoy
Member

I kind of look at all statistics as unknowable at this point. I don’t think it’s nothing to worry about nor do I think all the doomsday scenarios I see people reveling in because they think this is some kind of goddam movie are accurate. I blame a lot of this on lack of presidential leadership in any way, shape or form.

Joseph
Guest
As an aside here’s a useful tip. If you are ever looking to hire an accountant, ask each applicant “How much is 1+1?”. If they answer”2”, send them packing. The person you want will respond “How much do you want it to be?” * * * * * * * * Um, no. I want them to answer “2” because THAT is the correct answer. If they give me your answer, I’m going to report them to my state’s board that certifies public accountants for UNETHICAL behavior (at the very least). An accountant, like a lawyer or a doctor, is… Read more »
catperson
Member
I am having a hard time following your diary. So firstly, it is incorrect to say that one can manipulate math to obtain any desired outcome. If one has a formula answer = x + 1, for a given x, the answer will be the same no matter who does the calculation, unless they make a mistake. As far as the number of Californians who might become infected, the number can be estimated based on what is happening with current cases. In New York, cases are doubling every day. I know people have been talking about the checker board example… Read more »
Nemeton
Guest
The US has not seen the exponential growth rate decline so we just don’t know if we (USA) are doing enough to control the numbers. The US has just begun tracking those numbers, as well as shutting down cities so we should see the numbers per day not continue to rise if the US is doing enough. Currently Covid-19 is growing at 29% a day. We understand seasonal flu, we do not have data to understand this virus as of yet. Stats matter and we do not have enough data either way. Your post makes it sound like you do.… Read more »