Representative Dooley August 18th COVID-19 Update
I first want to address Wrentham being designated as red on the latest Massachusetts covid map. As of this evening, Wrentham only has 1 active case of COVID-19 - as there was one new case diagnosed yesterday. Prior to that, Wrentham had zero cases for the last 5 days or so. Before that 7 (2 households) and they all released from their 14 day quarantine last Wednesday or Thursday. And for those who love to spout off that I am lying and I do not know what I am speaking about - I am getting this data directly from the Town of Wrentham and their Board of Health. So if you do not believe me, please call them to confirm - I have no reason to lie but 2020 seems to have brought out a whole new batch of conspiracy theories and partisan nonsense on every side and topic imaginable.
So, why is it now suddenly red? The reality is that (as any one who has played with statistics like this that have so many moving parts) data can be manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally, to achieve a particular set of results. The data points that they are using take into account the last 2 plus weeks as a whole and do not reset when a person comes off of quarantine. And this gets more bastardized when the community is as small as Wrentham and the actual testing baseline is artificially low due to the fact that you must have symptoms in order to be tested. Some might argue that this should still have validity - and they do to a certain extent - but the reality is that our sample population is so small, even one instance of a single asymptomatic family all testing positive (2 parents, 4 kids) will be statistically significant and appear that there is somewhat of a spike.
Normally this sort of graphic wouldn’t really matter and it would be an interesting factoid/conversation piece - but in this case this information is being used to determine the next phase of re-opening and our schools are relying on it to determine whether they loosen or tighten their back to school plans. And while I will give the state somewhat of a pass on trying to set up as a guideline - the one size fits all aspect of this modeling does a disservice to the communities unfortunate enough to have be caught in a similar set of circumstances as it makes it appear that the situation is catastrophic when the exact opposite is true.
Further, there does not seem to be any follow up or common sense that is being utilized before making such a proclamation by classifying a community as a hot spot. The DPH has this information, but even so, one would hope that the administration would reach out to the community to discuss and give a heads up prior to doing something that would cause panic and uncertainty within a town.
And further - the dramatic nature of the classification is somewhat suspect in comparison to other towns. Wrentham - total historic case count 219, with a 2 week count of 9 (current 1) and trending lower = RED. Whereas we look at a community like Brockton whose total case count is 4,470, with a current count of 96 and trending higher = YELLOW. I realize that it is just the formula - but someone needs to re-evaluate and put common sense to this alert because it scares the hell out of people and adds to the confusion of what the heck is going on.
Unfortunately, in other parts of the state - 6 new deaths were reported although only 175 new positives out of nearly 12,000 tests. All the other measurements are down or statistically neutral so we continue to show how stable our situation has become. Not saying that we are out of the woods, but what we are doing is working and I hope this will result in additional leeway for small businesses to continue to open within these guidelines that have proven successful.
Well, sorry for spending so much time on one town tonight but I think it is a good issue to discuss as today it’s Wrentham, tomorrow it will be somebody else. This is all new and of course there will be growing pains but I worry about the unintended consequences of designating a community as a hot spot - especially when it is not. I don’t want this to add fuel to any fires and sow discord within our community. We must trust the data and raw facts and not just go for the graphic that seeks to dramatize a particular situation. Again - until the numbers of testing reach a level where we have a solid baseline, these graphs are highly subjective. We need a rapid and reliable test as soon as possible so we can truly understand not only the actual hot spots, but the rate and process of the spread.
I hope this wasn’t too boring. I cut out a few paragraphs that I wrote that were a deeper dive into the analytics, data, and moving parts. But since my bride fell asleep while I was reading it to her - I figured it might be too in the weeds for a random Facebook post. So I deleted it - you are welcome. LOL
Keep being awesome and happy hump day!