Home>Articles>Gov. Newsom Projects 56% of Californians Could Be Infected With Coronavirus in 8 Weeks

Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Gov. Newsom Projects 56% of Californians Could Be Infected With Coronavirus in 8 Weeks

Stanford epidemiologist warns that coronavirus crackdown is based on bad data

By Katy Grimes, March 20, 2020 7:45 am

In an attempt to obtain federal funding, California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday, claiming, “California has been disproportionality impacted by the repatriation efforts over the last few months.”

“In some parts of our state, our case rate is doubling every four days. Moreover, we have community acquired transmission in 23 counties with an increase of 44 community acquired infections in 24 hours,” Newsom said.

Using the dubious statistic, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti went on the Today Show and claimed, It’s “absolutely plausible.”

But Stanford University epidemiologist John Ioannidis says that is not so. “The current coronavirus disease, Covid-19, has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic,” he says. “But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.”

“In the U.S., for example, so far this season 1,073,976 specimens have been tested and 222,552 (20.7%) have tested positive for influenza,” Ioannidis said. In the same period, the estimated number of influenza-like illnesses is between 36,000,000 and 51,000,000, with an estimated 22,000 to 55,000 flu deaths.”

Newsom also requested the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship, homeported in San Diego, to be stationed at the Port of Los Angeles to help the region’s health care system overwhelmed by the pandemic, NBC San Diego reported. “Newsom predicted that 56% of California’s population – roughly 25.5 million residents – could be infected with the novel coronavirus over an eight-week period.”

Epidemiologist Ionidis explains:

“Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4% rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror — and are meaningless.

Patients who have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. As most health systems have limited testing capacity, selection bias may even worsen in the near future.

The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher.

Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%. But since this estimate is based on extremely thin data — there were just seven deaths among the 700 infected passengers and crew — the real death rate could stretch from five times lower (0.025%) to five times higher (0.625%). It is also possible that some of the passengers who were infected might die later, and that tourists may have different frequencies of chronic diseases — a risk factor for worse outcomes with SARS-CoV-2 infection — than the general population. Adding these extra sources of uncertainty, reasonable estimates for the case fatality ratio in the general U.S. population vary from 0.05% to 1%.”

The governor’s letter is HERE.

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7 thoughts on “Gov. Newsom Projects 56% of Californians Could Be Infected With Coronavirus in 8 Weeks

  1. The Diamond Princess was a worst case scenario for transmitting the virus. That virus was on board a ship at sea. A closed society where every person interacts with practically every other person. Close quarters. One kitchen. Many folks using the same facilities. So the infection rate from that situation should be the worst imaginable. What was it? 18%! Not 50% or even 30%. So what the governor has said our open society, the the most populous and very spread out state in the USA, is untethered from reality and irresponsible.

  2. We’re not surprised in my house that the Gov is using bad data as a premise to justify shutting down the State of California (!!!!) but we certainly now think that what he has done, continues to do, and the way he has done it all is officially more alarming than the virus. Doing twice-daily spine-strengthening exercises and skepticism-building at my house now.
    P.S. Very grateful that Katy Grimes is the one-in-40-million type of California reporter that she is as we are being put through this wringer of a trial. On top of it all and relentless! So important! Thank you again, Katy. 🙂

    1. This is like watching ” dumb and dumber’. It’s all about future politics. He knows he is lying and has no facts to back up this silly projection. He wants to be able to come back in 2 months and say that due to his actions, the infected rate is only 10% not 56%. This from a potential presidential candidate.

  3. This was awesome work. This was not just timely but also oddly unique (odd because it makes such an important point yet no other news coverage seemed to make the same point).

    Updated flu stats are here (they increased a little):
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

    It looks like the flu death rate is 0.115%. The latest projected Covid death rate is 0.66% (Lancet). Even at 0.66%, there should be a more honest public discussion of the tradeoffs. For example, how many deaths would result from inducing a global recession?

    If community testing were performed of a representative sample of asymptomatics, we’d zero in on how many are already ill and that would allow for far more accurate projections of current and projected Covid-19 death rates.

    What keeps me awake at night is that our electeds, from Trump to Newsom on down may only learn after they have induced an epic global recession that it was only to remedy an illness very comparable to Influenza in terms of death rates.

    Why isn’t community testing of asymptomatics being rapidly performed?

    So many billionaires, so few brains.

  4. This was awesome work by Katy Grimes! This was not just timely but also oddly unique – i.e., it makes such an important point yet no other news coverage seemed to make the same point.

    Updated flu stats are here (they increased a little):
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

    It looks like the flu death rate is 0.115%. The latest projected Covid death rate is 0.66% (Lancet). Even at 0.66%, there should be a more honest public discussion of the tradeoffs. For example, how many deaths would result from inducing a global recession?

    If community testing were performed of a representative sample of asymptomatics, we’d zero in on how many are already ill and that would allow for far more accurate projections of current and future Covid-19 death rates.

    What keeps me awake at night is that our electeds, from Trump to Newsom on down may only learn after they have induced an epic global recession that it was only to remedy an illness very comparable to Influenza in terms of death rates.

    Why isn’t community testing of asymptomatics being rapidly performed?

    So many billionaires, and none picked up on the need to be laser focused on improving projected death rates?

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