Archive for the ‘Covid-19 Testing’ Category

Shocker: “Asymptomatics” not rushing to get tested.

May 21, 2020

Quick quiz: If you wanted to get tested for COVID-19, how would go about getting a test? What are your odds of actually getting tested?

The Washington Post ran an obvious-became-evident exposé:  “As coronavirus testing expands, a new problem arises: Not enough people to test.”

These days, COVID testing capacity is said to be exceeding demand in some (many?) locales.


So, why aren’t people rushing to get tested?


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

May 12, 2020

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…


Do Americans really care about nursing homes?

May 7, 2020

Maybe it’s time for a national gut-check

Earlier this week, there was a heart-wrenching story on TV.

A woman was telling the story of the Massachusetts state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home that had suffered over 80 C-19 fatalities. Her elderly father was one of the casualties.

She had been trying for weeks, to no avail, to speak with her father, or at least get a status report on his condition. Her first contact was when he was being wheeled to the coroner’s van.

click to see details

Of course, the daughter was heart-broken and observed “nobody seemed to care … they’re just old people”.

That struck a chord with me

Of course, people who have loved ones in nursing homes are concerned about their level of care.

At a minimum, they want their loved ones kept safe and comfortable.

But, what do we as a nation really think?



May 5, 2020

Over the weekend, Gov. Cuomo reported final results from the NY antibody test program..

Key Data:

12.3% of the NY state sample tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

Note: The rate in NYC was 19.9%

That extrapolates to 2.4 million New Yorkers.

Given the current number of cases (327,374), 2.1 million (86.3%) of the already infected people were, by definition asymptomatic — having no or mild symptoms.

The implied deaths to infections rate is (1.0%).


The implications…


Senate may be starting to ask the right questions re: testing.

May 3, 2020

“Why do we have to have symptoms to get tested?”

The Senate (but not the Congress) is scheduled to get back on the job this week.

Roughly half the senators are 65 or older … and, thus, officially in the coronavirus’ “vulnerable” group.

So, it’s understandable that they’re eager that all colleagues have a clean bill of health before returning to the Senate chambers.


Here’s the rub…


Help Wanted: Vice President of Contact Tracing & Testing

May 1, 2020

Warning: Read this before you apply for the job.

Contact tracing & testing is front and center as a fundamental component of the Coronavirus Task Force’s plan to go forward.

Dr. Fauci has said (over & over again) that the process worked fine 30 years ago when he was fighting AIDs … and the media says that the test & trace model has been South Korea’s secret sauce fighting the coronavirus.

The essence of the process: Do diagnostic surveillance testing to ID people currently infected with the coronavirus, then trace back to ID the people with whom they’ve been in contact … then notify those people and test them … if they test positive, repeat the process … then again and again.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?


But, it might not be as easy as it sounds.

Let’s run some numbers…


Still more about the NY antibody test results…

April 29, 2020

What about the 3% of New Yorkers floating around while infected but asymptomatic?

In a prior post, we squeezed the NY antibody test results pretty hard and estimated that about 600,000 New Yorkers are walking around at any one time infected with the coronavirus but exhibiting no or very mild symptoms. That means that about 3% of NY’s population are asymptomatic “hidden carriers” who may be unknowingly spreading the disease.

To understand their significance …

Most infectious disease epidemiology models are built on the “SEIR” construct: how many people are susceptible to a virus … of them, how many are likely to get exposed to it … of them, how many are likely become infected … and of them, how many are likely to recover, perhaps with some degree of immunity. The modelers then calibrate a virus’s behavior, estimating how long it takes people to move from susceptible to exposed to infected to final resolution (recovery or death).


My former strategy students should recognize the SEIR construct as a basic hierarchy-of-effects model, similar in design to, say, the classic marketing awareness – trial – repurchase model.

And, the spread effects are a classic Bass Diffusion Model application with infected people playing the role of “innovators” and susceptible people playing the role of “imitators”.

Let’s dive a little deeper…


NY Antibody Test < UPDATE>

April 27, 2020

Phase 2 Results

Gov. Cuomo reported Phase 2 results today.

Bottom line: Results are virtually identical to the Phase 1 results.

14.9% of the sample tested positive for coronavirus antibodies …  that’s up slightly from the Phase 1 results.

That projects up to 2.80 million New Yorkers.

Given the current number of cases (293,381), 2.6 million (89.8%) of the already infected people were, by definition asymptomatic — having no or mild symptoms.

The deaths to infections rate (.8%) was the same in both phases.


Squeezing the NY antibody test results…

April 24, 2020

Estimate: 3% of the NY state population are infected asymptomatics .. in circulation and potentially infecting others.

In my business analytics course, I used to nudge students to “squeeze the rock” .. to get as much possible information out of each test or piece of data.

OK, let’s apply that principle today …

In a prior post, I opined that NY antibody tests were missing an information opportunity.  If they also swabbed the random sample for C-19 diagnostic tests, they’d also have an estimate of the number of infected asymptomatics who are currently in circulation in NY.

OK, it was a missed opportunity.

But, let’s not fret.

We can squeeze the data to get a rough-cut estimate of  the number of infected asymptomatics who are currently in circulation in NY.

Let’s do some arithmetic …


NY’s missed testing opportunity

April 24, 2020

NY’s antibody testing program is highly commendable … and, it’’s already generating some very useful data.

But, I wonder..

Why aren’t they swabbing the same people for coronavirus diagnostic tests?

Doing so would tell us how many asymptomatic “hidden carriers” are currently in circulation.

My view: that’s one of the most important pieces of missing information … especially if it’s done on a periodic basis, say, weekly.

Would give us a good sense of how infectious the population is right now.