COVID-19 decisions based on potentially misleading statistic, expert says

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COVID-19 decisions based on potentially misleading statistic, expert says
Credit: Florida Atlantic University

Florida’s COVID-19 every day % optimistic fee, a key metric driving financial and public coverage decisions, gives a distorted snapshot of the impact the virus is having throughout the state, in response to Rebel Cole, Ph.D., a knowledge scientist with 35 years of expertise and a professor of finance in Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business.

Cole believes the ‘every day fee’ reported by the state is misleading as a result of it’s extremely risky and based on checks that had been performed throughout the prior two weeks moderately than throughout the previous 24 hours. Because it’s a mean of checks performed from someday to 2 weeks in the past, it isn’t the well timed metric that most individuals assume. The reported fee is additional skewed as a result of the state focuses its testing efforts on “hotspots”—areas identified to include excessive concentrations of optimistic instances, Cole mentioned.

He gives 3 ways to treatment these deficiencies. The easiest is to depend upon a “moving average” of the speed over the latest seven days. This smooths out the variability and makes the pattern clearer for policymakers.

He additionally recommends that wait till they’ve outcomes for many of the checks administered on a selected day earlier than calculating the every day % optimistic fee for that day, and that the speed be calculated from a random sampling of individuals in every county—a way referred to as surveillance testing—which might higher point out the true prevalence of an infection amongst every county’s inhabitants.

“The best way you can track the progression of a virus is through surveillance testing,” Cole mentioned. “That would give us a much more reliable statistic to use in decision-making, but we’re not getting that.”

To give customers a clearer image of the pandemic in Florida, Cole and Jon Taylor, a Ph.D. pupil at FAU, have created the COVID-19 Florida Tracker that presents quite a lot of charts created from public state information.

Meanwhile, native and state authorities proceed to make use of the flawed every day % optimistic fee to make financial coverage decisions about which actions they permit to reopen in every county. Cole mentioned the state’s aim is a fee beneath 10 %, however some counties favor a fee beneath 5 %.

“County commissioners and mayors cannot make the right decisions if they don’t have the best possible data,” he mentioned. “They’re basing it on this faulty daily positive, which can be terribly misleading.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced plans to start out providing 1,200 checks with on the spot outcomes at two websites in Miami-Dade County, a state sizzling spot, to acquire extra dependable testing information. Cole thinks it is a step in the correct route and referred to as for public launch of the outcomes from surveillance testing in every of the 67 counties in Florida.


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COVID-19 decisions based on potentially misleading statistic, expert says (2020, August 11)
retrieved 11 August 2020
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