This is a follow-up to my earlier post, Shady coronavirus data in Florida. The reporter in that story from Orlando has clarified that the reporting errors did not happen at the labs. The labs reported seemingly accurate data, but the data was changed to 100% positive tests at the Florida Department of Health. The headline suggested the hospitals were the source of the errors, not government bureaucrats. Now I really have some questions about how and why the data was manipulated at the state level to exaggerate the number of positive cases.
The department has not responded to the reporter’s requests for how they did not notice a problem or why they were not reporting negative test results at all. That’s a pretty obvious red flag that should have been caught by more than one person. So why wasn’t it? Who are the people making these decisions?
This whole situation is complicated by numerous stories of residents who were not tested at all but received notices in the mail that they had tested positive for the coronavirus. They gave their personal information to the labs when they called to schedule an appointment to be tested and were assigned a positive test result without ever showing up for the actual test. So there are clearly people in the system that are bogus results, one way or the other.
This has been a problem with all coronavirus data for a while now. I have watched local reporters hyping deaths when the numbers they are working with included deaths from previous weeks that were just assigned coronavirus status. Then they would report cumulative hospitalizations, making it seem like hospitals were currently overwhelmed when most of those people had been released over the course of several weeks. Then they reported steep climbs in hospitalizations for people who were not hospitalized because of the coronavirus, but had a positive test (real or false) when they showed up at the hospital for a totally unrelated procedure. They were technically hospitalized, yes, in the sense they had been previously admitted to the hospital, but not for an especially severe case of the coronavirus.
My favorite criticism these days are when people who question statistics are labeled as “covidiots” or “science-deniers.” The most militant critics are swallowing a bunch of objectively bullshit and ever-changing numbers whole to justify hysterical political positions. They are the opposite of empiricists themselves. They are the people who fell for NBC’s epidemiologist who claimed to have gotten Covid through his eyeballs despite several negative tests. It’s ludicrous.