Second Wave of Coronavirus in Schuylkill County? Nah.
The Pennsylvania Dept. of Health reported 31 new cases of coronavirus in Schuylkill County over the last 2 days.
On Wednesday, there were 19 new cases. And on Thursday, another 12.
Second wave, right?
Not quite. Actually, not at all.
New Coronavirus Numbers for Schuylkill County are Fake News
Another source that claims to report “straight from the source without speculation” reported these findings without question. They have Coal Region Karens in a tizzy. People who haven’t been outside in 2 months clutch their pearls a little harder tonight.
Tonight, their readers continue their primal screams for people to “stay home!”
“People just don’t listen!”
“Well, there goes summer and probably Fall!”
But don’t fret. These numbers aren’t even remotely accurate. They’re even less accurate than before, when we decided to stop reporting the daily drumbeat of alleged positive cases of coronavirus.
These numbers from the last 2 days are rich and creamy Fake News.
See, the problem with being a megaphone for government mouthpieces is, well, you’re a megaphone for government mouthpieces.
Pennsylvania DOH Continues to Fudge Coronavirus Numbers
The reason we stopped reporting daily coronavirus numbers was because they weren’t accurate. And they’re terribly misleading.
As far as that cumulative total goes, now at 490 on Thursday, it’s always going to go up. That’s what cumulative means. It’s not an active case total. But that doesn’t stop the screaming.
“These numbers keep going up!”
But here are two more reasons why we’re calling the coronavirus totals for Schuylkill County “fake news”.
First, It Was Probable Cases
The state started including “probable” cases of Chinese virus in with confirmed positive cases. We didn’t think it was right to include someone “probably” having the Chinese virus in with people who definitely tested positive for it.
DOH hasn’t told us if those probable cases ever became positive. But they’re still in the cumulative and daily totals getting reported. And that gets the Karens in an even more confused tizzy.
Over time, the DOH says its numbers are even more questionable.
Once or twice a week, typically, the state reports unusually high numbers of positive coronavirus cases in Schuylkill County. Health Sec. Rachel Levine blames “data dumps” for these inflated totals.
The problem is these data dumps are included in one day’s total. But the cases, she admits, could be weeks old.
And Now … More Questionable Numbers
So, what’s the explanation for the sudden spike in cases in Schuylkill County? Thirty-one more cases in 2 days … that’s 6% of our total number of cases.
It’s definitely NOT a second wave.
Instead, the state started adding another set of positives into the case total: people who’ve had positive antibody tests.
People who have positive antibody tests likely, at one time, had the coronavirus and have since fully recovered. A person who has a positive antibody test could have had the virus in April or March or even as far back as December? November?
The same thing happened in Cambria County, according to a report from WJAC-TV in Johnstown.
According to that TV station, 2 residents there got sick back in December. They didn’t test positive for Flu A or Flu B or even strep throat. But then they got an antibody test and found out they had coronavirus antibodies.
So, the state DOH decided to include those 2 cases in with a recent updated total for Cambria County.
The state thinks it’s fine to include these numbers into the daily total reported. And that leads people to believe the virus is spreading more now than it has at almost any time during the entire pandemic response.
When WJAC-TV questioned the DOH about this, they were told that these positive antibody cases weren’t included in the daily totals reported because they “fell under probable cases.”
Now, if you’ve been following this story, you know that the state DOES count probable cases in with its daily reporting.
This TV station obviously wondered the same thing and got a different answer straight from Levine on Monday, they report. The Health Secretary “cleared up the confusion” by providing a patented double-talk answer:
She said, “We have been getting that data, and no, we’re not reporting it in a separate or different count.”
Yes, people who test positive for coronavirus antibodies likely had the virus at one time. But there’s no indication these cases are “new” in any way.
Translation: Pennsylvania includes coronavirus-positive antibody tests in with its daily positive case reporting. And the “31” new cases of coronavirus in Schuylkill County can’t be believed. There’s a better chance many of those cases happened weeks or even months ago.
Lessons to Learn
Two important lessons to learn here:
- Don’t trust the DOH reporting.
- Don’t trust sources who copy and paste data from the government without question.