Home » Maine Law » Let’s Do Some Deconstruction — Get to the Root of the Specious, Unravel Some Sophistry.

Let’s Do Some Deconstruction — Get to the Root of the Specious, Unravel Some Sophistry.

Let’s Do Some Deconstruction — Get to the Root of the Specious, Unravel Some Sophistry.

Posted by Edmund R. Folsom, February 6, 2022.

To begin, Cumberland County is Maine’s most vaccinated county.  According to Maine’s vaccination dashboard, 87.59% of its age-eligible population (ages 5 or older) and 83.43% of its overall population has received a “final” vaccine dose.  Yet, over the previous week, through Friday, February 4, 2022, Cumberland County had, by far, Maine’s most new recorded COVID-19 cases, with 2,284 cases during that period. That amounts to 110.60 new daily cases per 100,000 population (11.06 per 10,000 population).  In other words, during the past week, every one of Maine’s other 15 counties, all less vaccinated than Cumberland, had a 7-day average of new daily cases smaller than Cumberland County’s, ranging all the way down to Washington County (full vaccination rate 64.67%, eligible population rate 67.78%), with 69 new cases and a 7-day average of 31.41 daily cases per 100,000 (3.14 per 10,000).

The Maine CDC’s COVID-19 data website shows that Cumberland County has had 1,289.7 recorded cases per 10,000 population (12,897 per 100,000) during the entire pandemic.  There are 7 Maine Counties with lower case rates than that, and all of them have lower vaccination rates than Cumberland County:  Aroostook 1,283.7 (eligible pop. vac. 70.45%); Hancock 966.2 (75.83%); Waldo 1,126.9 (70.37%); Knox 1,077.2 (81.46%); Lincoln 1,110.9 (81.39%); Sagadahoc 1,059.7 (79.94%); and Washington 1,003.8 (67.78%).  And with its current rate of over 2,000 new recorded cases per week, Cumberland County is catching up to and will likely soon surpass case rates in other counties too, all of which have vaccination rates lower than Cumberland.

Having lost all grounds for a persuasive case that the continuing spread of SarsCoV2 is due to socially irresponsible and dangerous unvaccinated people – that the pandemic would be over if not for THOSE PEOPLE – the mandatory-jabs-for-all crowd has resorted to fallback positions:  No, the vaccines do not stop the virus from spreading, and they do not stop the vaccinated from getting infected. But the vaccines make it less likely that a person will get seriously ill or die with or involving COVID-19. Therefore, everyone must be vaccinated! Vaccination mandates that cause people to lose their jobs for non-compliance are justified.  Othering and shaming of the unvaccinated — reveling in their deaths as if they are a form of social justice — advances the greater good.  Onward, fellow travelers – lean in!

In this connection, the Portland Press Herald published a story yesterday that addresses “a strong correlation between high death rates and low vaccination rates” in Maine.  The following excerpts capture the story’s thrust:

“Of Maine’s deaths, 75 percent have come since January 1, 2021, after vaccines started to become available, and there is a strong correlation between high death rates and low vaccination rates.  Study after study has shown that people who are fully vaccinated, and now those who have gotten booster shots, are at an exponentially lower risk of hospitalization and deaths. 

Since Jan. 1, the counties with the most deaths per capita – Penobscot, Oxford and Piscataquis – are in the bottom half for vaccination rates.  Conversely, counties with the fewest deaths per capita – Knox, Lincoln and Cumberland – are the most highly vaccinated.”  

What should we make of this?  Does it mean that everyone, including children under the age of 5 should be jabbed, double jabbed, and boosted every 4 or 5 months to infinity? Does it mean that everyone, including everyone under the age of 50, should face job loss and shunning as a socially dangerous pariah for failing to vaccinate in accordance with prevailing CDC guidelines?

The Press Herald story raises another, related point, as follows:

“Older Mainers are those most likely to have died of COVID-19.  Of the 1,800 deaths, 1,274 of the dead have been 70 or older (71 percent). Just 74 deaths, or 4 percent, have been individuals younger than 40.”

In fact, as of today, February 6, Maine’s CDC records 1,804 deaths with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.  Just 74 of those deaths have occurred among people under age 50 (not under age 40 – under age 50).  That’s right, only 4.1% of all Maine’s recorded deaths with COVID-19 have taken place among Maine’s entire population under the age of 50, meaning 96% of the deaths have occurred in people ages 50 and older.  Only 22 deaths have occurred in Maine’s entire population under age 40 – 1.2%.  Under age 30 there have been 8 such deaths (0.4%) and under age 20 there have been 2 (0.11%).

On the other hand, Maine’s CDC has recorded 181,010 COVID-19 cases, which break down as follows:

Age        Cases    % of Total     Case Fatality %

<20         44,068       24.3%           0.0045%

20s         28,967       16.0%           0.02%

30s         29,992       14.9%           0.05%

40s         22,789       12.6%           0.22%

50s         23,237       12.8%           0.66%

60s         18,360       10.1%           1.62%

70s         9,824           5.4%            4.76%

80+        6,773            3.7%           11.94%

From this, we see that 67.85% of all recorded cases have been among people under age 50, while only 4.1% of recorded deaths with COVID-19 have occurred in this population. And we see that 55.2% of all recorded cases have occurred among people under age 40, while only 1.2% of deaths with COVID-19 are recorded in this group. This is roughly consistent with the U.S. overall. The U.S. CDC’s provisional death count statistics, through February 2, show a total of 880,487 deaths “involving COVID-19,” of which 60,745 have occurred in the population under age 50 (6.89%) and 22,313 have occurred in the population under age 40 (2.53%).

What does this tell us regarding what the Press Herald calls “a strong correlation between high death rates and low vaccination rates” in Maine?  It tells us that people under age 50 very seldom die with COVID-19. They are certainly not responsible for “high death rates” anywhere in Maine.  If there is a strong correlation between high death rates and low vaccination rates, it is only relevant to vaccination rates among people ages 50 and older.  It has nothing to do with un-jabbed children, un-jabbed young adults or un-jabbed people in early middle age, who almost never die with COVID-19 whether they are vaccinated or not.

The fact that Penobscot County has an overall vaccination rate of 66.22% and an eligible population rate of 69.45%, versus Cumberland County’s overall rate of 83.43% and eligible population rate of 87.59%, tells us nothing pertaining to high rates of deaths with COVID-19.  For all it tells us, maybe everyone over age 50 in both counties is fully vaccinated and boosted.  Maybe the difference in overall vaccination rates between Penobscot and Cumberland counties is due solely to Cumberland County having a much higher vaccination rate than Penobscot County among people under age 50 (an age group in which only 4% of all deaths have occurred).  If that were the case, any correlation between a low overall vaccination rate and a high overall death rate would suggest nothing in the way of causation. It doesn’t happen to be the case, but for all you know from the bare numbers it could be.

Knox, Lincoln and Cumberland Counties are coastal counties.  Penobscot, Piscataquis and Oxford Counties are landlocked.  Knox, Lincoln and Cumberland counties have lower rates of deaths with COVID-19 than Penobscot, Piscataquis and Oxford. That amounts to a strong correlation between coastal counties and low death rates, and between landlocked counties and higher death rates.  Does it also suggest causation?  Is the correlation possibly due to income disparities between the two groups of counties – higher wealth correlating with lower COVID-19 deaths and lower wealth correlating with higher COVID-19 deaths, possibly because of better dietary habits and/or less obesity among the elderly in the higher income, coastal counties? Who knows?

Actually, Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard allows us to break out vaccination rates by age in each county.  This shows the following rates for everyone age 50 and older in the counties singled out for the Press Herald story:

Lower Vaccination Counties — 50 and Older.

Penobscot – 82.96%

Piscataquis – 75.67%

Oxford – 78.82%

Higher Vaccination Counties — 50 and Older.

Knox – 93.98%

Lincoln – 92.77%

Cumberland – 96.78%

Let’s assume that the correlation between higher death rates and lower vaccination rates in people ages 50 and older in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Oxford counties, and between lower death rates and higher vaccination rates in Knox, Lincoln and Cumberland counties is causal. The disparity would be eliminated through a targeted increase in the vaccination rates of people ages 50 and older in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Oxford counties, to bring that population’s rate up to the 50 and over population’s rate in Cumberland County.  Raising the vaccination rate among the population under age 50 in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Oxford counties would do nothing to correct a high rate of deaths with COVID-19, because that population isn’t the cause of anything approaching a high rate of deaths with COVID-19. Suggesting otherwise does nothing but advance an agenda of vaccinations-for-all, jab-the-children, workplace-mandates — which is the entire point.  And it’s sophistry.

Update 2/13/22022:  The weekly breakthrough numbers are in from Maine’s CDC.  COVID-19 cases in people with a final vaccine dose were 59% of all new recorded COVID-19 cases in Maine last week — 3,481 of 5,895.  COVID-19 cases among the fully vaccinated now comprise 29.7% of all COVID-19 cases — 44,728 of 150,484 — recorded in Maine since January of 2021 when Maine’s CDC began tracking “breakthrough” cases.

Through 2/11/2022, Maine’s most vaccinated county, Cumberland (86.08% total population, 87.83% age eligible population vaccinated), still has a lower rate of COVID-19 infections per capita than 8 of Maine’s 15 other counties, with a rate of 1,330.3 cases per 10,000 people throughout the pandemic.  Cumberland County’s per capita infection rate is still slightly less than Penobscot’s (66.14% total population, 69.69% age eligible population vaccinated) rate of 1,389.1 cases per 10,000 and Piscataquis’s (60.25% total population, 63.15% age eligible population vaccinated) rate of 1,386.9 per 10,000. Seven counties — Aroostook, Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Washington — continue to have lower per capita case rates than Cumberland County, while being less vaccinated.