The politicization of public health and reporting

The politicization of public health and reporting

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This sounds convincing until you look at actual data:

Rumbles from the motorcycles and rock shows of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally have hardly cleared from the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the reports of COVID-19 infections among rallygoers are already streaming in — 178 cases across five states, according to contact tracers.

In the three weeks since the rally kicked off, coronavirus cases in South Dakota have shot up at a startling pace — sixfold from the early days of August. While it is not clear how much rallygoers spread the virus through secondary infections, state health officials have so far reported 63 cases among South Dakota residents who attended the event.

The epicenter of the rally, Meade County, has become red-hot with new cases, reaching a per capita rate that is similar to the hardest-hit Southern states. The county reported the highest rate of cases in the state over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.

Source: How much impact could Sturgis rally have on COVID caseload? | NewsNation Now

They’ve drawn a correlation between a rise in cases in South Dakota and the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Here’s the problem with drawing these sorts of correlations.

1. Cases are rising in numerous states having nothing to do with Sturgis (see #3, below).

2. 95% of attendees came from other states. About 5% of attendees come from South Dakota. In fact, there are more attendees from five U.S. states than there are from South Dakota. In other words, cases would rise elsewhere. (And those too are tracked back to Sturgis if they think that was the link.) At 3 weeks, we have a good indication on the spread caused by Sturgis – and like Lollapolooza, it appears to be small. Give this a few more weeks and we will know better.

3. The media has it in for the Republican Governor of S.D. as that state has had few restrictions compared to others. This biases their reporting. By comparison, my state, Oregon is rapidly becoming one of the worst Covid hot spots in the U.S. Two counties in southern Oregon are currently the two worst counties in the United States. But do you see any news coverage about Oregon’s situation or its Governor? No.

4. In late July/early August, the EAA Airventure air convention and air show took place at Oshkosh, WI. Over 600,000 attended this mostly outdoor event. There have been no news reports blaming Covid cases on that event. Why no such stories?

Since mid-2020, numerous events were predicted to be “super spreaders” but turned out not to be. These included various holidays, Superbowl weekend, college football games, and many more.

The news media, throughout the pandemic, has been dreadfully awful. As one person summed it up on social media, “I’d like to give every reporter a 7th grade math textbook to improve their math skills”. Ouch.


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