Shipping Out of Boston

Monday was the trade deadline for this year’s attempt at a baseball season. The Red Sox actively sold off parts of their roster. You may remember that just two years ago, the Red Sox won the World Series, the sport’s national championship. One would imagine that two years later, most of that championship calibre roster would remain.

You would be wrong.

Well over half that roster is gone. And to prove it, I bought a t-shirt to celebrate. The t-shirt’s design featured the World Series roster on the reverse. (To be fair, there was a mistake as Brandon Workman, who had been on the ALDS and ALCS teams was removed for Drew Pomeranz. But Pomeranz is also gone and so what do you know, the math still works.) I simply crossed out who is no longer with the team.

Some people retired, like Steve Pearce, who, despite being World Series MVP, had his body simply give out and could no longer play the sport two years later. Others, like Blake Swihart, were really only on the roster so that they would not be lost to waiver claims. Still others, like Joe Kelly, understandably left in free agency for deals that were probably way overpriced. And others like Mitch Moreland were simply traded at the end of their contracts for potential prospects to build the next winning team.

And then there are the others.

Brock Holt, a fan favourite super utility, a verifiable Brockstar, who the Red Sox never really entertained any notion of retaining this past off-season. Jose Peraza is no Brock Holt.

And of course, last but certainly not least, we have the Mookie Betts situation. Because ownership has got to make its millions. A homegrown, fifth-round draft pick who was originally slotted into second base. As he began to rise through the system the thought was to trade him, because Dustin Pedroia blocked him in that position. Well someone, somewhere (probably no longer in the organisation) had the idea of let’s try him in the outfield. 2018 MVP much?

But he was traded to the Dodgers this off season because ownership wouldn’t agree to an extension, a pricey one to be fair, but one that an ownership group and a particular owner that includes (in whole or in part) the Red Sox, Fenway Park, NESN, Roush Fenway Racing (controls two NASCAR cars), and in the UK, Liverpool FC, and Anfield, home of Liverpool FC. So, you know, they have some money. But they wouldn’t commit to paying a homegrown star his due to have him play his entire career in Boston.

So they flipped him to the Dodgers for a few prospects and one player, Alex Verdugo, who has a checkered past with allegations of being present near a sexual assault (though he is not alleged to have assaulted the victim, being as he was reportedly in the other room) and then more directly recording on Snapchat the beating of aforementioned victim by two other women who were in the room. None of this has been proven in court, however, because none of it was thoroughly investigated, allegedly because the Dodgers and their director of player development, who would later go on to manage the Phillies and now the Giants, did not really want it fully investigated. And by all accounts, the incident will never be fully investigated and so we’ll never really know what happened in that hotel room.

They traded Mookie Betts, generally perceived in the media as all around nice and humble guy, and also a champion bowler, for saving some money, two minors prospects, and Alex Verdugo.

Credit for the original shirt goes to somebody on either the MLB or Red Sox design teams I would assume. The annotations are, of course, my own work.

Wednesday’s Covid-19 Data

Here we have the data from Wednesday for Covid-19.

The situation in Pennsylvania
The situation in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania saw continued spread of the virus. Notably, Monroe County in eastern Pennsylvania passed 1000 cases. It was one of the state’s earliest hotspots. That appears to have been because it was advertised as a corona respite for people from New York, not too far to the east and by then in the grips of their own outbreak.

The situation in New Jersey
The situation in New Jersey

New Jersey grimly passed 5000 deaths Wednesday. And it is on track to pass 100,000 total cases likely Friday or Saturday. Almost 2/3 of these cases are located in North Jersey, with some South Jersey counties still reporting just a few hundred cases and a handful of deaths.

The situation in Delaware
The situation in Delaware

Delaware passed 3000 cases and Kent Co. passed 500. While those don’t read like large numbers, keep in mind the relatively small population of the state.

The situation in Virginia
The situation in Virginia

Virginia has restarted reporting deaths, this time at the county level and not the health district level. What we see is deaths being reported all over the eastern third of the state from DC through Richmond down to Virginia Beach. In the interior counties we are beginning to see the first deaths appear. And in western counties, we still see that the virus has yet to reach some locations, but counties are beginning to report their first cases.

The situation in Illinois
The situation in Illinois

Illinois continues to suffer greatly in the Chicago area, and at levels that dwarf the remainder of the state. However, the downstate counties are beginning to see spikes of their own. Macon and Jefferson Counties each saw increases of 30–40 cases in just 24 hours.

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How about those curves?
How about those curves?

A longer-term look at the states shows how the states diverge in their outbreaks. Pennsylvania looks like it might be forcing the curve downward whereas New Jersey appears to have more plateaued. Earlier I expressed concern about Virginia, which does now appear to have not peaked and continues to see an increasing rate of spread. Then we have Illinois, which may have plateaued, but we need to see if yesterday’s record amount of new cases was a blip or an inflection point. And in Delaware a missing day of records makes it tricker to see what exactly the trend is.

Credit for the piece is mine.

Comparing Covid-19 to Influenza

I want to share a small graphic I made yesterday evening. And I am being charitable with the term graphic. Really it is nothing more than a collection of organised factettes. But I have seen the footage of those protesting the lockdowns in various states, including Pennsylvania.

To be clear, people can have different policy prescriptions to solve the pandemic. For example, the governor of Pennsylvania is considering lifting the lockdown piecemeal once the state overall has sufficient testing and tracing capabilities. Look at the state.

The situation in Pennsylvania
The situation in Pennsylvania

He rightly said that Cameron County, one of the little light purple shapes in the upper left, with its one case for the last 25 days is in a different situation than Philadelphia where cases continue to grow, albeit at a slowing rate. And in the future it is possible that Cameron County could open before Philadelphia. That is a different policy prescription than, say, opening the state all at once.

I don’t think most people enjoy lockdown—I haven’t left my building in 38 days and I cannot wait to leave and go do something. But I recognise that spreading outside these walls we have a deadly pandemic for which we have no vaccine. But then I see people protesting—protesting in a manner that contradicts the guidelines put out by the health officials—and claiming that we should open up because this is nothing worse than the flu.

Well, Covid-19 is not the flu. It is much worse.

This isn't your grandmother's flu. Or anyone else's flu. Because this isn't the flu.
This isn’t your grandmother’s flu. Or anyone else’s flu. Because this isn’t the flu.

Now, those numbers will change because the pandemic is ongoing. But, let’s spitball. Let’s assume those numbers hold. The idea of the shutdowns, lockdowns, and quarantines is to prevent the spread of the virus. For the sake of this thought experiment, let’s just assume, however, that it infects 56 million people, the upper end of the range for this most recent influenza season.

Influenza this year killed as many as 62,000 people after infecting 56 million. Hypothetically, with a mortality rate of 5%, Covid-19 would kill 2,800,000 people.

With a 4% rate that drops to 2,240,000

With a 3% rate that drops to 1,680,000

With a 2% rate that drops to 1,120,000

With a a 1% rate that drops to 560,000

With a 0.5% rate that drops to 280,000

And even at 0.5% that is still far greater than the flu. And so that is why it is so important to keep the number of people infected as low as possible. (And I won’t even get into the surge problems overwhelming hospitals that acts as a force multiplier and is the proximate reason for the lockdowns.)

This is not the flu.

Credit for the piece is mine.

Covid-19 Data from Monday

Monday’s Covid-19 data for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Illinois provided a glimmer of good news, most notably in Pennsylvania. That, however, occurred on the same day as a protest in Harrisburg that could set the state back days if not weeks. More on that below.

The situation in Pennsylvania
The situation in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania saw fewer than 1000 new cases for the first time since 1 April. The curve here may be doing more than flattening, but it might actually be falling. That is to say the infection rate is decreasing rather than stabilising and holding steady, as it appears to be doing in New Jersey. That said, new cases are appearing sporadically in the rural and less dense areas of the state. Problematically, protestors arrived in Harrisburg to let it be known they are unhappy with the quarantine. Because the rest of us are.

The problem is that it appears a significant percentage of those infected with the virus are asymptomatic carrier, i.e. they are sick, but do not show any symptoms like fever, coughing, difficulty breathing. Critically, they may not appear sick, but they can spread the sickness. And so a gathering of several hundred people in close quarters? Not ideal.

Compare that to a Christian cultish church in Daegu, South Korea. There, an infected parishioner did not heed government calls to isolate and instead attended a church service. The average infected person spreads this virus to two or three people. This congregant? They infected 43 people who then went on to infect other people.

It is quite possible that someone in that Harrisburg protest was an asymptomatic carrier. And given the lack of social distancing, the lack of masks, and the general reckless behaviour, it is quite possible that the rally could be a super-spreading event. But we won’t know for 5–10 days, the apparent incubation period of the virus. Hopefully we dodge the proverbial bullet. But it is quite easy to see how these kinds of protests could lead to surges in infections. And those surges would then force the government to extend its quarantine by weeks thereby defeating the entire point of the protestors.

We get it. Quarantine sucks. But we all have to suck it up.

The situation in New Jersey
The situation in New Jersey

Moving on to New Jersey, where we see continuing evidence of the plateauing of cases. The bulk of the cases remain in the north in the New York suburban counties with the fewest numbers in the counties in South Jersey. However, averages of nearly 3500 new cases daily remains quite high and the death toll of 4377 is likely to continue to climb higher, even if Monday’s 175 new deaths was lower than most days in recent weeks.

The situation in Delaware
The situation in Delaware

Delaware is back to reporting its figures. And in that release, we had Sussex County in the south climb above 1000 total cases. The levels or curves chart at the end will also show how the state might be flattening and stabilising its infection rate, but we will need several days of uninterrupted reporting to make that determination.

The situation in Virginia
The situation in Virginia

Virginia might be worrying. Or it might not be. Cases continue to increase in the big metropolitan counties like Fairfax and Henrico. But, there are still several counties out in the west that remain unaffected. And the curves chart at the end shows how there has not yet been any sort of even a near-exponential growth curve. Instead we just see a steady, slow increase in the number of cases. That in its own way makes it more difficult to see when the curve flattens, because it was already a relatively flat curve.

The situation in Illinois
The situation in Illinois

Illinois continues to be the tale of two states: Chicago vs. everywhere else. The combined Chicago and Cook County have over 20,000 total cases and the surrounding counties add a few thousand more, which gets you over 2/3 of the state’s 31,000 cases. That said, new cases and new fatalities are beginning to pop up in downstate counties.

Looking at the curves
Looking at the curves

Lastly a look at the curves. As I noted above when talking about Pennsylvania, you can clearly see the downward slope of the state’s new cases curve. Compare that to the plateau-like shape of New Jersey. Delaware and Illinois might be approaching a New Jersey-like curves. But I would want to see more data and in Delaware less volatility. But like I said, Virginia is a tricky one to read.

Credit for the pieces is mine.

Sunday’s Covid-19 Data

Here is a look at the data from Sunday’s releases on the COVID-19 outbreak in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Illinois. I’ve omitted Delaware because they paused reporting on Sunday to move to a noontime release instead of their previous end-of-day.

I’m not exactly certain what that means for the data on Delaware and reporting time series. But, my guess is that will be more like a hole in the time series. I need to spend some time looking at that. But, anyways, on to the states for which we did have data on Sunday.

The situation in Pennsylvania
The situation in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania continues to see growth in cases, but as we’ll get to with the levels, that appears to at least be stabilising. But in the spread of the outbreak, we are beginning to see the T of the state, that more rural and less densely populated area, beginning to fill in with cases. These are of course the areas of concern, the areas with shuttered rural hospitals, lack of comparatively developed infrastructure, where the impacts could be proportionately more severe than in the bigger cities. In terms of deaths, they have now spread almost across the state from east to west. I am still waiting until two adjacent counties connect before I make that final pronouncement.

The situation in New Jersey
The situation in New Jersey

For New Jersey, I have removed the orange outlines around each county. The initial idea was to show where deaths had occurred. But now that they have been reported in every county, they don’t seem to be as helpful as the small number I provide in the graphic. Regardless, 4200 deaths is a lot. But the approximately 200 new deaths is the lowest number reported in several days.

The situation in Virginia
The situation in Virginia

Virginia is a weird state. When we see the levels chart below, you will see how its uptick has been far more gradual, and to this point it does not yet appear to have peaked or begun to stabilise. Most of the reported cases continue to be in and around the state’s big cities, notably the DC metro area, but also Richmond.

The situation in Illinois
The situation in Illinois

Illinois has now seen cases from north at the Wisconsin border all the way south to Cairo. Most cases remain, however, concentrated in the Chicago metropolitan area, with lesser scale outbreaks occurring in the Quad Cities area and the suburban counties of Illinois this side of the Mississippi. Deaths continue to rise, and while most area again in the Chicago area, they are appearing increasingly at low levels in downstate counties.

But what about the curves?
But what about the curves?

But what about those curves? Excepting Delaware, which hasn’t reported new data, we can see that some states like Virginia continue to see increasing rates of infection. Others like New Jersey and Pennsylvania clearly have flattened and have entered a new phase. In New Jersey’s case it appears to be more of a stabilised plateau. In Pennsylvania, there was some evidence it was entering a declining rate phase, but that may now have begun to become more of a steady rate of infection like in New Jersey. Illinois is tough to read because of the variability of its data. It might be more of a pause in the rate of increase, or it may have begun to stabilise. We need more data.

Credit for the pieces is mine.

Sunday Covid-19 Data

Another day, more cases of coronavirus and Covid-19. So let’s take a look at Sunday’s data as there were some interesting things going on.

First, let’s dispense with Virginia. The state is enhancing its reporting structure, and so they admit the data is likely an underestimate of the present situation in Virginia. So here’s Virginia, nothing really changed.

The situation in Virginia
The situation in Virginia

Moving on, we have Pennsylvania. Here we are beginning to truly see the disparity between the cities in the southeast and southwest, namely Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the T that describes what sometimes is used to describe Pennsyltucky. (Though it also includes cities like Harrisburg, the state capital.) The point is that the T of Pennsylvania has yet to suffer greatly from the outbreak. Of course, it’s also the part of the state least equipped to deal with a pandemic.

The situation in Pennsylvania
The situation in Pennsylvania

New Jersey is just bad. One can make the argument that South Jersey is hanging on. (Though I will touch on that later with an idea for today’s afterwork work.) Bergen County in the northeast is likely to surpass 10,000 cases on its own today. And that will put it above most states.

The situation in New Jersey
The situation in New Jersey

Delaware is tough because it sits as a small state next to several much larger ones. But, the numbers seem to indicate the outbreak is still worsening. Though in terms of geographic spread, there’s little to say other than that New Castle County, home to Wilmington, in the north is the heart of the state’s outbreak.

The situation in Delaware
The situation in Delaware

Illinois is a fascinating state, because of how dissimilar it is compared to Pennsylvania, a state which has a similar number of people.

The situation in Illinois
The situation in Illinois

The map shows that geographic spread still has a little way to go before reaching every county in the state. But the outbreak has been there longer than in Pennsylvania. And most of the darker purples are concentrated in the northeast, in Chicago and its collar counties. Compare that to Pennsylvania above where you will see dark purple scattered across the cities of its eastern third, e.g. Allentown and Scranton, and in the western parts near Pittsburgh. This too could be worth exploring in depth in the future.

Lastly I want to get to the cases curves charts. Here we look at the daily new cases in each state.

The curves, flattening or otherwise, of the five states.
The curves, flattening or otherwise, of the five states.

And unfortunately Sunday’s numbers will impact the Virginia curve, but it overall looks as if the state is worsening. I would argue that Illinois, which appears to be bending towards a steadying condition is likely in a weird weekly pattern where it appears to stabilise on weekends and then resumes reported infections come Monday. Pennsylvania might well be flattening its curve. I would want to see a few more days’ worth of data before stating that more definitively. Let’s give it to Wednesday or Thursday.

And then in New Jersey we have a fascinating trend. The curve of increasing number of cases has clearly broken. But it also is not shrinking. Instead, it seems to be more of a plateau. And in that case, the outbreak in New Jersey is not getting worse, but it’s also not getting any better. At least not numerically. However, the goal of flattening the curve is to create a slower, more steady increase in case numbers to help hospitals cope with surge volumes. So good news?

Credit for the pieces is mine.

Philly Rules

Yo. C’mon, bro. This jawn is getting tired. Just stop already.

If you did not catch it this week, the most important news was Donald Trump disinviting the Super Bowl champions Eagles to the White House to celebrate their victory over the Patriots. He then lied about Eagles players kneeling during the US anthem—no player did during the 2017 season. He then claimed that the Eagles abandoned their fans. Yeah, good luck convincing the city of that.

So naturally we have a Friday graphic for youse.

That's 25,304.
That’s 25,304.

Full disclosure: I root for the Patriots. But I mean, seriously, can’t youse guys do the math?

The Short Arc of Pub Trivia Scores Bends Towards Victory

Well, at least over the last three weeks it did. In previous examples of my pub trivia team’s performance, we have had a lacklustre performance. But a few weeks we had an epic collapse. Having been in 4th place out of 10 in the penultimate round we ultimately finished in 8th out of 9—somebody left early—and 14 points out of first place. It probably didn’t help we put Beyonce down as the artist for three different songs. It probably really didn’t help that none of those artists were Beyonce. And it probably definitely didn’t help that we had no idea who those three artists were.

Then after a middling performance two weeks ago, last week we shocked even ourselves with our first victory since last autumn. Just how shocking? 19 points in that oft ill-fated music round. (It’s not really, but I’ll have to make another graphic about that.)

We were perhaps the most shocked of all that week.
We were perhaps the most shocked of all that week.

Credit for the piece is mine. Credit for the score goes to my teammates.

US Steel Imports

On Thursday President Trump announced that the Commerce Department would investigate imports of steel to the United States. This falls under the Buy American campaign pledge. A lot of talk in the media is, of course, about the threat of Chinese steel to the United States. So I dug into the Census Bureau’s website and found their data on steel imports.

Well, it turns out that steel imports were already down by over 5 million tons before Trump took office. And from 2015 to 2016, China fell sharply from 7th to 10th in a ranking of our import partners. In fact the only country from whom we import significant amounts of steel to see a rise over that period was Mexico.

But we’ll probably need their steel to build the wall to keep out their steel.

I visualised the data in this datagraphic. Enjoy. And look for a later post today in the usual, light-hearted vein.

The state of US steel imports
The state of US steel imports

Credit for the data goes to the US Census Burea. The graphic is mine.