Crunching the COVID numbers

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Hello everyone,

I have never been the same since I took that political science class in college.

I did not care much for the course. The professor preferred diving into statistics, rather than delving into personalities. Still, his emphasis on crunching the numbers stuck with me over the years.

Fast forward to 2020 and numbers matter more than ever in assessing the coronavirus situation in Delaware and elsewhere. I admit to spending too much time in the past week checking the numbers from left and right-leaning think tanks as well as many other sites with no agendas.

My conclusion. Delaware has done a decent job in slowing down the pandemic. See the chart above as an example of one reason for cautious optimism, although one death is too many and NO this is not the flu.

Given its location within a short drive of heavily populated hotspots, the state should have been in worse shape. Instead, the numbers look encouraging, especially if you subtract Sussex County and its outbreak.

With that said, recent news has not as upbeat. The widely followed University of Washington model now sees widespread cases and deaths continuing into summer as fewer people stay at home and practice social distancing. The finding is based on smartphone traffic that shows more travel taking place.

Commentary on the UW model suggests that Delaware could see less of a flattening of the curve than first thought. The revision comes after an earlier model provided to be overly optimistic – at least in the case of Delaware.

Another point worth mulling – a state lockdown that was not as severe as advertised.

Construction continued and many exceptions to nonessential businesses were added.

The requirement that visitors turn around or quarantine themselves was for the most part lightly enforced after a smattering of checkpoints. After all, stopping every vehicle with Pennsylvania or Maryland plates would have been impossible.

Liquor stores remained open, even though it is nearly impossible to enforce social distancing in small stores as demand for alcohol remained perhaps too strong.

The enforcement of business closings was largely voluntary. In recent days, a few businesses were operating illegally in plain sight. Elsewhere, non-beach state and county parks remained open.

As temperatures climbed and the governor ordered customers and employees to wear face masks (thanks in part to the deteriorating situation in portions of Sussex) the restlessness intensified.

Protesters showed up in Dover and Wilmington. Their numbers (300 on the top end) hardly amounted to a groundswell but did catch the attention of Republican legislators who are now taking a closer look at the numbers and calling for reopening.

Ironically, Delaware’s semi lockdown left Gov. John Carney with fewer opening options than his counterparts in other states, which with great fanfare, announced that state parks and construction sites were back in business.

The Carney administration is now holding a series of Zoom virtual town halls on the reopening process. Tomorrow, I’ll add a few ideas that would allow small businesses to open sooner rather than later Granted, these moves might trigger lawsuits, but litigation will drag on for years regardless.

Enjoy your day, stay safe, and get a little exercise if you can . – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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