Home » Maine Law » When Propagandists Say, “Don’t look at the Numbers,” It’s to the Numbers We Must Look.

When Propagandists Say, “Don’t look at the Numbers,” It’s to the Numbers We Must Look.

Posted by Edmund R. Folsom

January 20, 2022 (updated January 22 and 23, 2022)

When propagandists say, “Don’t look at the numbers,” it’s to the numbers we must look. But then again, when the keepers of the numbers don’t want you to look, they make looking very difficult and render the numbers nearly inscrutable.

It’s been obvious for some time now that Maine’s CDC is under-reporting the number of new daily COVID-19 cases. No, it isn’t our status as one of the most highly vaccinated states in the U.S. that causes us to have the lowest per-capita rate of reported new daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. right now.  It’s that our CDC counts our cases more slowly than any other state in the U.S. — Dirigo!

The Mayo Clinic publishes an online map showing each state’s current 7-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.  Recently, Maine’s number has been way below that of our neighboring states. Today, for instance, the map shows Maine’s rate is 66.9 cases per 100,000, while New Hampshire’s is 265.3, Vermont’s is 322.2, Massachusetts’s is 283.8, Connecticut’s 195.2 and Rhode Island’s 449.1.  In fact, the map shows that Maine’s rate is the lowest in the entire U.S.  Only Michigan’s rate even comes close, at a 7-day daily new case average of 95.2 per 100,000.  Again, this is not because Maine actually has the lowest average of new daily cases in New England, let alone in the U.S. It’s because Maine is doing a singularly slow, nation-beating-lousy job counting its cases.

Today’s Portland Press Herald reports that Maine’s CDC has a backlog of 46,000 positive tests that haven’t yet shown up in case counts. Many of these represent a series of positive tests produced by the same person. The counters have to sort that out before reporting the case count.

When cases are reported, they are recorded on a spreadsheet containing case counts entered by county and date, linked at the CDC’s COVID-19 data page. Numbers are not reported on Sundays and Monday.  The numbers released on Tuesdays are for the case counts from the immediately preceding Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The numbers released this past Tuesday were just ridiculous. The CDC reported a total 535 new statewide cases over the 3-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend. There are single days lately when Cumberland County alone has come within 100 of that number.

Is it just a happy coincidence that Maine’s nation-beating botched counting coincides with the “Pay no attention to the case counts (just jab the children and get a booster)!” campaign that got rolled out in earnest a few weeks ago? Call me suspicious.

Today, the Portland Press Herald went so far as to state, flat-out, in their Our View editorial: “Don’t look at the numbers.” For context, the entire paragraph says: “How bad is COVID in Maine?  Don’t look at the numbers. It’s bad enough that we should not let up.”

Well, we can agree that the numbers under-report the cases without agreeing that there’s nothing to see there, can’t we?  I’m inclined to think there’s something in them that the authorities and their reliable media arm at the Portland Press Herald would rather you’d not see. The numbers demonstrate that it was never true that COVID-19 would be eradicated if not for unvaccinated people, whom the authorities, including the Press Herald, have spent months demonizing for political ends. The numbers demonstrate that we are not in a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” in which the pandemic continues only because unvaccinated people continue to spread the SarsCoV2 virus to the otherwise-protected vaccinated (as if any of that ever made sense).

The hyper-focus on case counts that the authorities hyper-promoted right up until a few weeks ago can no longer be bent to support their dogma. Some of the most highly vaccinated areas of Maine (even under Maine’s highly flawed overall undercounting) now have some of the highest rates of new daily cases on both an absolute and population-adjusted basis.  And breakthrough cases have represented more than half of all reported COVID-19 cases in Maine for the past 2 weeks.  They were 53.5% last week.

Below is where things now stand over the past 7 days, under the Maine CDC’s admittedly undercounted statewide reporting. Four of Maine’s 6 most-vaccinated counties are among the top 6 counties for the highest 7-day new-daily-case averages over the past 7 days:

#1 York — Average 99.94 daily reported cases per 100,000, with 1,444 cases reported in the past 7 days and an eligible-population vaccination rate of 74.05% (#6 most vaccinated).

#2 Cumberland – Average 88.61 daily reported cases per 100,000, with 1,830 cases reported in the past 7 days and an eligible-population vaccination rate of 87.18% (#1 most vaccinated).

#4 Knox – Average 75.07 daily reported cases per 100,000, with 209 cases reported in the past 7 days and an eligible-population vaccination rate of 80.80% (#3 most vaccinated).

#6 Lincoln – Average 64.34 daily reported cases per 100,000, with 156 cases reported in the past 7 days and an eligible-population vaccination rate of 81.05% (#2 most vaccinated).

Conversely, of the 8 counties with the lowest 7-day average of reported cases per 100,000 over the past 7 days, 7 of them have eligible-population vaccination rates below 70%:  #9 Kennebec (54.43, 69.81%); #10 Somerset (52.91, 61.92%); #11 Waldo (50.35, 69.81%); #13 Washington (44.16, 67.31%); #14 Piscataquis (41.70, 63.39%); #15 Aroostook (36.43, 69.90%); and #16 Penobscot (34.27, 68.92%).  The only outlier in the bottom 8 for 7-day average of reported cases per 100,000 is #12 Hancock (49.19, 75.26%).[1]

COVID-19 vaccinations should never have been mandated. And when all the data are in, the only way that will not be abundantly clear is if the ongoing full-court-press effort to suppress the speaking of truth succeeds.

[1] Eligible population vaccination rates are taken from Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard as of January 20, 2022.

Update 1/21/2022:  Maine’s reported breakthrough cases were 3,100 of the 6,151 reported new COVID-19 cases over the past week — 50.39%. This is down slightly from 53.5% last week and diverges markedly from the trend in Massachusetts.  Today, Massachusetts released its most recent report for the 7-day period ending January 15.  During that period, Massachusetts recorded 86,450 breakthrough casesThe Massachusetts COVID-19 dashboard shows a 7-day average of 15,545.1 new confirmed cases on January 16 and a 7-day average of new confirmed cases of 15,946.9 on January 15. Depending on which of those dates aligns with the January 15 breakthrough numbers, Massachusetts breakthrough cases were either 86,450 of 108,179 confirmed cases or 86,450 of 111,622 confirmed cases during the week ending January 15.  Adding the 6,352 “probable” cases reported on the dashboard during this period to the confirmed cases results in a breakthrough case rate of either 75.48% or 73.27% for the week.  Also, 48% of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Massachusetts right now are vaccinated and have breakthrough cases.

Update 1/23/2022: According to a report in the Maine Sunday Telegram today, the Maine CDC’s abysmal failure to stay on top of the COVID-19 case count has a serious, possibly deadly consequence. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allocates monoclonal antibodies to the various states each week according to each state’s new case and hospitalization numbers over the previous 7-days. Monoclonal antibodies, administered early in the course of a COVID-19 infection, are a highly effective treatment for preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths.  The only monoclonal antibody type that works against the omicron variant of SarsCoV2 is sotrovimab.  Last week, Maine received only 72 doses of sotrovimab from the U.S. DHHS.  In contrast, New Hampshire, which had the same 7-day per capita rate of hospitalizations as Maine, but which reported a much higher per capita case count, received 180 doses (2.5 times as many doses as Maine).  Vermont, which has fewer than half as many residents as Maine and has a much lower per capita hospitalization rate than Maine received 96 doses of sotrovimab (33% more than Maine received).  It therefore appears that the Maine CDC’s failure to provide accurate COVID-19 case counts will lead to some high-risk people suffering severe illness or dying with COVID-19 who would otherwise have been spared that fate if sotrovimab had been available to them.  And some of those same people would probably not need to take up valuable hospital space if they had received early treatment with sotrovimab. Given the trend that can be discerned from the current numbers, it appears that much of the sotrovimab Maine would have received, if it wasn’t doing the worst job in the U.S. of counting new COVID-19 cases, would have gone to Maine’s most highly vaccinated counties, which are currently experiencing Maine’s highest case counts.

Maine’s CDC Director, Nirav Shah, told the Sunday Telegram that he doubts Maine’s small allocation of sotrovimab is due to the low reported case counts. The newspaper quotes him as saying that the U.S. DHHS’s “allocations have been quite strange.”  Of course, given the life and death implications of the Maine CDC’s vast undercount (they admit a backlog of 46,000 positive test results), we might expect Dr. Shah to have great reluctance to shoulder the blame.

Disclaimer:  The above is not legal advice and is not to be taken as legal advice.