COVID: How about squeezing the data and doing some old-fashioned profiling?

Hint: Go back and ask people who have been tested or hospitalized.


Finally, Gov. Cuomo has directed hospitals to ask new coronavirus patients for some demographic and behavioral information such as their occupation, usual transportation mode and neighborhood.

Cuomo says the early results from this info-seeking initiative and the state’s antibody testing have provided  some confirming data and some “shocking” revelations, including:

  • 96% had an underlying health condition (a.k.a. comorbidity factors); new admissions were predominantly minority, predominantly older; 22% came from nursing homes.
  • 66% of NY’s new coronavirus hospitalizations are people who are either retired or unemployed and not commuting to work on a regular basis … only 17% were employed.
  • The majority of recently hospitalized coronavirus patients are people who say that they have followed the precaution of staying home.
  • Only 4% in New York City said they had been taking public transportation.
  • A low percentage of new hospitalizations were essential employees — nurses, doctors, transit workers, grocery store employees — who were getting sick at work.
  • Sources: WSJ   NY Daily News

Of course, these sample sizes are small and the results may or may not be projectably true.

The point is that “they” should have been recording this sort of information from the get-go.

The plan is to start asking a battery of questions when people are tested for the coronavirus (both diagnostic and antibody testing, I assume) and when they’re admitted to the hospital.

That’s fine, but I’ve got a better idea…


As I’ve mentioned before, I used to preach to students that they should squeeze every bit information out of data they have or “occurrences” that they have on record.

In the US, we’ve already tested more than 5 million people and accumulated over 1 million confirmed coronavirus patients

Surely, somebody already has contact information on record for these people. To get test results, they would have had to submit their contact info, right? When admitted, hospitals gather contact info and medical histories … and outcomes.

Connect with this enormous sample of people (or their next of kin) and collect a full range of demographic, medical and behavioral information … then “big data” it to discern trends, patterns and differentiating variables.

You know, profile the known population of infectees.

Don’t just sit and wait for new patients to come in or go exploratory fishing with random tests & survey.

Squeeze the occurrences that we have on record.

That would provide critical information for targeting proactive virus-fighting initiatives and for allocating resources.

We’re late out of the gate but may have a way to quickly shore-up our fact-based understanding of the problem.

One Response to “COVID: How about squeezing the data and doing some old-fashioned profiling?”

  1. Our slant on last week’s COVID-19 news | The Homa Files Says:

    […] COVID: How about squeezing the data and doing some old-fashioned profiling? Hint: Go back and ask people who have been tested or hospitalized. […]

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