• Mark Huber

Getting back to work

After a month of lock downs and self-isolation, many people are eager to get back to normal life. This is not just about the emotions, but also about returning our economy to its normal state.


Personally, I feel the richest country in the world should be able to feed and house its citizens for more than a month without total collapse, but unfortunately our current economic system is fragile, and not particularly well suited to handle a crisis of this type.


Enter articles like this one at the Wall Street Journal.


I've been seeing a lot of these types of commentary lately. I'm one of those that is hoping that the higher rates of infection studies from blood samples are true: a higher infection rate means lower case fatality rate.


However, I'm troubled that this (and many similar articles) miss the primary reason for the lockdown. The *hospitalization rate* for COVID-19 is so much higher than the seasonal flu that it threatens to overload existing hospital capacity. And while fatalities are still primarily among the order patients, the hospitalizations stretch across age groups. That is what the lockdowns are for, and a failure to acknowledge that simple fact weakens the article considerably.



That being said, I do agree with the points made about the models, especially the fact that small linear errors in parameters translate into multiplicative errors in models where infections grow exponentially. That's part of what makes modeling these types of events frustrating. The models are better than doing nothing, but experts know full well that it is likely that predictions will off by *multiplicative* factors, and that is something that is hard for the general public to grasp. And it can be taken advantage of by operators who think they *feel* what the right approach is.

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© 2019 by Mark Huber

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