A day after the NY Times runs a laudatory piece on Arizona's successful pandemic response, the state sees a surge in new cases and deaths

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/07/25/a-day-after-the-ny-times-runs.html


Not nearly as egregious as their Buttery Males obsession, nor as deadly as their discredited Iraq War propaganda, and perhaps—maybe—incompetence rather than biased and bought, but either way, still a worthy minor entry into the FTFNYT category.


The Arizona new case numbers are noisy, and this isn’t even the biggest deviation from the 7 day mean that we’ve seen in the last week (= not interesting). The 7 day mean is going to tick upward by about 140 to 2.7k diagnoses/day, which doesn’t change the big picture on a decline by ~1k off the peak of ~3.6k diagnoses/day.


Scare quotes needed, as Arizona is the worst place I’m the world right now.

Of course, this is the New York Times, so they might have actually been talking about a different State. They tend to get a D- on geography outside of Manhattan.


Using a single data point to draw conclusions rather than using trends over time isn’t a good way to interpret data, and is really disappointing to see used as a justification to complain about this article.

Here’s the actual trends in cases and deaths in Arizona from the NYT tracker:

The Washington Post’s tracker shows the same trends. Anyone want to look at these two charts and try to claim that cases in Arizona aren’t on their way down since early July and deaths haven’t plateaued over the past week?


The headline of the article literally describes the plateau in Arizona as “Tenuous.”

I get that it’s fun to beat up on the NYT, but this is a pretty puzzling and toothless attack.


There’s a lag in behavior and there’s a lag in testing. There’s probably a lag in journalism. People want to hear about downward trajectories and upward trajectories, and policy changing those trajectories, but they end up delighting in random noise. It’s like the stock market, but without the benefit of immediate feedback.


I read that headline as “… NY sees a surge in new cases and deaths.”

I don’t see either the headline or the subhead as “laudatory”

Is it possible to stabilize coronavirus infections without going into full lockdown?

Haven’t we all been trained to understand that the answer to such questions in headlines is always “no”?

The article gives a little positive reinforcement to Ducey for finally increasing some prevention efforts, while still saying that even if better, things are bad:

“We’ve stabilized at 95 miles an hour, and that is not the speed that we want to be going,” said Dr. Joshua LaBaer, director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. “Ideally, we don’t want this car moving at all.”


One day does not a “surge” make. When the right wing uses one day of record cold weather in winter to discredit global warming, we call them uncivilized statistical morons.


Humans want clear and uncontested cause-and-effect. Excuse me, but have you seen this planet? Good luck.

That’s not a prematurely laudatory piece on a state’s response to the pandemic.

THIS is a prematurely laudatory piece on a state’s response to the pandemic.


npr is doing the same…

their introduction is stated to sound hopeful:

Since June, Arizona has seen rapid, unrelenting growth in daily coronavirus infections. But now case counts have dropped for two weeks in a row. Health experts say it’s a clear sign that local orders to wear masks and a statewide shutdown of businesses like bars and gyms are working.

while the people they talk to say things like this:

We are not seeing an absolute improvement. What we’re seeing is a relative improvement. What I mean by that is that week after week after week over the last two months, things have been getting worse every single week. And finally, we have a week where things didn’t get worse. They’re still bad, but at least they didn’t get worse.


I dunno, those charts seem like a pretty striking indictment of Arizona’s ability to manage the pandemic to me…


To his mother. “I’m sorry Ron. I’m sorry you were born.”


Ontario government reports 138 new coronavirus cases, 1 new death

Ontario: 14.57 million
Arizona: 7.279 million

smh. And I know that’s not due Ontario residents being especially smart or careful.


Oh their leaders shit the bed, no doubt. And the NYT is reporting that recently they stopped shitting the bed as much as they used to, which recent data trends completely support. My problem is that Mark seems to believe there’s something wrong with reporting on that because one day of data looks bad.

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It may be true, but it may not.

This article gets into a lot more detail.

It notes that testing has not kept up with spread of the virus, cases increased over the past three weeks by 75% but tests only by 47%, and the biggest test processor is backlogged by 9-12 days. As a result, those graphs may not have accurate data behind them for a while.

Hospitalization rates suggest there may be a slight decline, but it would definitely be helpful to have a lot more testing and no significant backlog in reporting results to know what is happening.


Epidemiologists have been saying for a while that the proportion of positive tests is a better leading indicator of where the pandemic is headed. I still don’t get why those numbers aren’t being reported and graphed by most news outlets.