By Pam Long
April 13, 2020
The Colorado state health department’s CDPHE COVID-19 Case Data has a flawed focus on cumulative case data, and not the viral arc peak that is critical in pinpointing the decline in the virus which would signal that everyone can resume their normal routines. The following is a sample of daily reporting by CDPHE: “Colorado Case Summary (Updated 4/13/20 at 4:00 p.m.) 7,691 cases;* 1,493 hospitalized; 56 counties; 38,742 people tested**; 308 deaths; 72 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities.”
The graph below depicts the daily COVID19 cases and hospitalizations in Colorado. To put the chart into magnitude perspective, CDPHE reports 1,493 COVID19 hospitalizations as of April 13, 2020 and 3,458 influenza hospitalizations[i] as of April 11, 2020 for the 2019-2020 season. COVID19 is only 43% the hospitalization rate of influenza, and yet the state is directing unprecedented quarantine and mask wearing for the public.
Dr. Knut Wittkowski, who for 20 years led the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at The Rockefeller University, New York, has criticized the response to COVID19 based on unrealistic models by virologists who do not understand epidemiology. In short, the models were based on invalid assumptions about transmission and virulence. He has written an extensive analysis calling for an end to the lockdowns. Viruses have a smooth climbing arc, a peak, and inevitable decline. When asked about spikes in COVID19 data, Wittkowski responded “nature doesn’t jump.” He is referring to artificial data spikes caused by expanding diagnostic criteria during the outbreak to include any pre-existing conditions.
BIRX: So, I think, in this country, we’ve taken a very liberal approach to mortality, and I think the reporting here has been pretty straightforward over the last five to six weeks. Prior to that, when there wasn’t testing in January and February, that’s a very different situation and unknown. There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem — some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. Right now, we’re still recording it, and we’ll — I mean, the great thing about having forms that come in and a form that has the ability to mark it as COVID-19 infection — the intent is, right now, that those — if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that as a COVID-19 death. [iv]
CDC has directed coroners to test bodies post Mortem for COVID19 and report as a COVID19 death.[v] In conjunction, hospitals were incentivized for receiving COVID19 stimulus funding and reimbursement to code all uninsured patients as COVID19 cases.[vi] Any patient with a pre-existing condition in the US can count as a COVID19 case and receive free treatment.
Additionally, the Colorado COVID19 hospitalizations and cases reported for April 12 on April 13, are also likely to be data outliers as a backlog of data reported after Easter weekend. The next few days will likely resume a downward trend, as per classic viral cycle decline.
Respiratory viruses such as influenza, pneumonia, or coronavirus historically peak at week 10, or March 2, 2020 according to CDC data. Note in the CDC chart below that 2017-2018 was a much worse year in the US for respiratory virus deaths. The conjecture that coronavirus could “surge” or have a “second wave” in April or May in the US temperatures is not evidence based.
Governor Polis acted in extreme caution when he ordered “social distancing” on March 26. On April 6, the Denver Post reported the governor was advised on two models: Colorado School of Public Health predicted 300 deaths, and state health officials predicted 30,000 deaths.[vii] As of April 13, 2020, Colorado has reported 308 COVID19 deaths, and proved that our state health officials were wrong by 100x. On April 6, Governor Polis extended the stay-at-home order until April 26. However, the daily data at the point indicated that the virus was already in a decline by April 3, 2020.
The current Colorado data indicates that hospitals are NOT at risk of being overwhelmed. However, every day that citizens are under a stay-at-home order will cost the state millions in jobs and tens-of-thousands in deaths of despair. For every 1% increase in unemployment, the US will suffer 58,000 deaths of despair (heart attack, suicide, liver disease), [viii] which will far exceed the current 42,000 US deaths from COVID19. COVID19 lockdowns are forecasted to trigger a 32% unemployment rate, with 7 million jobs already lost, and 14 million jobs projected to be lost by June 2020. Despite the annual CDC acceptable influenza death toll of 60,000 US citizens (most susceptible are elderly with comorbid health conditions), our government locked down a nation with unrealistic models and groupthink. Colorado can move forward today by (1) pointing CDPHE to trend data instead of cumulative data, and (2) urging our Governor and elected state leaders to exercise strong leadership to mitigate the economic and societal devastation.