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CDC reports 71 new COVID-19 cases statewide

By Fran Gonzalez | May 22, 2020

Two new fatalities in the state from COVID-19 were reported Friday, May 22, by Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at his daily news briefing. Two women, both in their 80s, one from Kennebec and the other from Aroostook County, died from complications associated with the virus.

The Aroostook County death is the first there from COVID-19.

In all, Shah said, 1,948 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of yesterday, an increase of 71 people. This high number, he said, is in part because of increased testing capacity and also a new outbreak in southern Maine.

The Cape Memory Care in Cape Elizabeth was universally tested after a single individual tested positive for the new coronavirus. As a result it was discovered that 57 people, including 45 residents and 12 staff members, were infected.

The Department of Corrections had no new cases at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham after one person tested positive and universal testing was done. Shah said that by the end of today, the CDC lab would have tested the entire campus.

Over all, 240 people have been hospitalized. There are currently 45 individuals in the hospital; 21 in intensive care units and 12 on ventilators. A total of 441 health care workers have tested positive for the disease. In all, 1,192 people have recovered. These last two deaths represent the 74th and 75th people to have died because of COVID-19.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Jeffrey Northrup | May 24, 2020 07:30

It's nearly impossible to get relevant information about the Corona virus situation. Instead, most reporting uses numbers that only increase fear and uncertainty but that do not help readers understand the situation and most importantly, changes in the situation over time.  This isn't a criticism of this article or the Waldo Village Soup.
This is true of every news outlet I've looked at.

When I was in college, it was required that we read Daryll Huff's: How to Lie with Statistics.  Back then it was required because it was a great way to create adults who could recognize and objectively critique sensational numbers in the news or in scientific reports but today's news reporting seems to have used that book as a guide for reporting about Corona virus.

What makes reporting factual numbers irrelevant?
1. Number-of-cases is an ever-increasing number. It will continue to go up, forever.  So, it isn't timely, it is just sensational...aimed at causing fear.  Every time the number grows, some people feel their fears grow also. In the beginning I had hoped that journalists were just not aware of how to report on the situation...but after more than 2 months of this it seems that is the point.

2. Number-of-deaths is similar to Number-of-cases in the way it is reported and in its effect on some readers. This number can ONLY increase, forever. The bigger the number the more often it is repeated in the news and by those readers whose fears are sensitive to increasing death numbers.

What reporting would be better?
1. "Number of positive cases per 1000 tests" -  This number is hard to sensationalize because it is a ratio.  Increasing the number of tests on any given day can produce "spikes" in the raw count as typically reported but reporting this ratio cannot produce spikes. Those sensational spikes are used to fuel fear and political oppression. Good journalists should not be supporting such manipulative, fear-producing, reporting.

2. "Deaths per 1000 tests" - Using a common refence value, such as "per 1000 tests" gives readers relevant, easily understood data they can visualize or compare mentally.  This would tend to NOT deliberately increase fear in most readers.

3. "Deaths per age group" - It has been noted everywhere that age is an important factor in the survivability of this illness. Raw counts of death offer no insight into how relevant age is.  Leaving out relevant contextual information is a common, deceitful, way of lying with statistics.

4. "Active cases" - This number takes into account the relevant fact that MOST PEOPLE RECOVER which is a very important fact that is almost entirely omitted from most reporting.

I don't expect news outlets or journalists to suddenly become more responsible in reporting about Corona virus all on their own because sensationalism sells; but, I do hope that more and more readers will demand that they do.
Cheers!
Jeff Northrup
Belfast



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