Pandemic Politics Threatens Lives And Economy
The data for Wisconsin is worrisome. The politics is puzzling.
The figure below plots the average number of COVID-19 cases (in blue) and deaths (in red) per day since the pandemic first hit Wisconsin. To reduce some of the data’s noisiness, all values were calculated by averaging the data over seven days.
Wisconsin cases peaked at 7,000 per day in mid-November of last year, exceeded only by North and South Dakota. About two weeks later, in early December, the number of deaths peaked at almost 70 per day.
The data consistently show that about 1% of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 succumb to it, typically two to three weeks after the diagnosis.
Factors behind this decline likely reflected more social distancing, the wearing of masks, and the availability of vaccines for anyone of wanted one. Unfortunately, this good news was not to last. In early July, cases started to rise, followed by increased deaths. Judged by the numbers, the case load at the beginning of September this year has already reached the level of the end of September last year.
The next graph plots the daily growth rate of cases over the months of July and August 2021, defined as the ratio of cases in one day to that of the previous day. Values over one show increasing cases; those below one show a decline in the number of new cases.
The good news is that average daily growth in August 2021–1.024 or 2.4%–was lower than the July 2021 average–1.088 or 8.8%. The bad news is that growth was still positive, in part reflecting the spread of the much more transferable Delta virus.
The next graph shows the number of Wisconsin cases in July and August of 2021. The blue line shows the actual number of cases. The red line shows the predicted number of cases using the average August growth.
If allowed to continue through the end of the year, the number of cases would grow from the current 2,000 to 38,000!
Like other northern states, Wisconsin is particularly vulnerable to the upcoming change in weather. As the temperature goes down, moving activities outdoors becomes much less feasible. Thus, Wisconsin may be facing a choice between mitigating the virus and shutting down the state’s economy.
We may be seeing the early stages of this shutdown. The next chart shows the monthly change in US jobs through August. The substantial decrease in August jobs added compared to July has been met with widespread disappointment
It turns out that much of the weakness was concentrated in a few categories that are particularly vulnerable to the resurgence of COVID-19. This includes eating and drinking establishments, restaurants and bars. As the next chart shows, July hiring by these businesses was down compared to June.
State jobs data are not yet available for August. However, the US figures suggest what to expect. Rather than growing, jobs in restaurants and taverns showed a small decline.
The spread of the virus in Wisconsin is bad for both the health and life expectancy of Wisconsin people of all ages. It is also bad for business.
It is surprising and disappointing that Wisconsin’s Legislature and political pressure groups, like those in other states, are afflicted by a pro-covid caucus that opposes any measures to reduce the impact of the disease. This includes opposition to wearing masks and the spreading of lies aimed at discouraging vaccinations. We have reached a remarkable point in America, where promoting sickness and death is considered winning in politics. Unless that changes, the data will continue to get worse.
- UW System Vaccination Rates Vary Widely - Rich Kremer - Sep 18th, 2021
- MKE County: COVID-19 Cases Still High in Milwaukee County - Graham Kilmer - Sep 17th, 2021
- Milwaukee Health Department excusing inaction with insufficient data, right-wing talking points - Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association - Sep 16th, 2021
- Gov. Evers Delivers Radio Address on New Investments to Support Local COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Recovery - Gov. Tony Evers - Sep 16th, 2021
- UWM reaches 70% vaccination rate goal, pushes for more - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Sep 16th, 2021
- Data Wonk: Biden Vaccine Plan Helps GOP Governors - Bruce Thompson - Sep 15th, 2021
- Gov. Evers, DHS Remind Wisconsinites to Get Vaccinated to Get $100 - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Sep 15th, 2021
- American Family Field COVID-19 Testing Site Closing - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 14th, 2021
- For Ron Johnson, Prolonging the Pandemic is Just Another Day at the Office - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Sep 14th, 2021
- Nursing Home Workers Resist Vaccines - Madeline Fuerstenberg - Sep 13th, 2021
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