Santa Clara Co. Coronavirus Dashboard Lacks Critical Data on Hospitalization, Testing Capacity

Santa Clara County bureaucrats teased transparency as they prepared for the unveiling of a supposedly new-and-improved way to report on the local spread of COVID-19.

But when the online dashboard went live late last week, it actually gave us less information than before. Only now, the daily death toll and confirmed-case count came presented in a fancy new orange-and-black infographic.

For example, while the county previously reported the number of COVID-19 patients that had been laid up in hospital beds at some point, it stopped sharing that number once it launched the new dashboard. And—unlike its counterpart in, say, Orange County—it still says nothing about the total number of tests conducted.

Fly tried to pry those numbers loose with county flak, to no avail—until a Tuesday presser—sending only canned replies about how they’re working on making the data public. “As this situation continues to evolve,” a spokesperson wrote via email, “we are continuing to assess what data to provide to the public, how that data informs decisions and how we can best share that data in a way that is useful and meaningful for the public.”

While Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody has received praise for being the first of her ilk to issue a shelter-in-place order, her department has been less transparent than counterparts in other jurisdictions.

When the news broke on Jan. 31 that the county confirmed its first case of COVID-19, Cody refused to disclose info about where the person had been.

The opacity stands in marked contrast to the county’s reporting of a measles outbreak in March 2019, when an international traveler unknowingly infected with the illness traveled throughout Silicon Valley. At the time, health officials publicized a list of every place—time and date included—that the infected person had visited in the eight days preceding their diagnosis.

When it comes to the novel coronavirus that continues to spread at an alarming pace, however, Cody and her team have kept those details out of sight.

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20 Comments

  1. The obvious reason is that while the economic impact of the restrictions is huge, the hospitalization numbers are relatively small and don’t support the restrictions. They don’t want to give the public the truth because the truth might negatively impact the public’s willingness to buy what they’re trying to sell.

  2. The goal that’s not easy to measure is how many people are *not* hospitalized. You guys all seem like you want to see hundreds (thousands?) of sick people _before_ you perceive a justification for the restrictions. That’s backward thinking, and remember that if those numbers aren’t up to whatever threshold you think is justifiable, then maybe the isolation is working.

    My guess is WORK90, Bubble and Pete, none of you are medical professionals, scientists or researchers.

    • > My guess is WORK90, Bubble and Pete, none of you are medical professionals, scientists or researchers.

      Your guess is more wrong than right.

      The ethos of science is to critique arguments, not people.

      In politics, it’s just the opposite.

  3. Your guess for me is at least correct SCC. I agree with you regarding it not being easy to know how many people have it that are not hospitalized. However I don’t want to see ANY people get sick.

    Obviously we disagree on the “shelter in place” order, and that’s ok. Debating it in forums like this give us all a better understanding of not only each others thoughts and fears, but the disease and process as well.

    I personally have been reading an incredible amount about the virus and have followed the numbers daily.
    I try to read both sides of the argument and I feel I am swayed by the facts and the science, rather than the fear and the emotion. A very good friend of mine has had a similar outlook to this all as you seem to. We exchange links, numbers, articles and ideas several times a day. After a few weeks i seem to have swayed him over to my way of seeing things. Maybe you can be swayed to?

    • You don’t want to see people get sick? No one wants to be sick, but people get sick all the time. People die all the time. The CDC estimated that 55,000 people died in the US alone last flu season, and not a peep from anyone. No shelter in place then. COVID deaths just hit 10,000 and the entire country is in turmoil and the economy is In a tailspin. Huh? Minor demagogues like Liccardo, Breed, Cody, and Cuomo (all still drawing full paychecks) have abrogated civil liberties, and not a peep from the ACLU except to protect the “rights”of criminals and detained illegal aliens.

  4. We imposed severe restrictions back when there were only 1,117 cases in the state (in a state of 40m people).

    Now, the forecasts are that we have flattened the curve. The most probable scenario is that ICU beds and current ventilators available statewide will be able to handle the number of patients now forecasted. The peak is spread out over several weeks, coming in about two weeks. The caseload has been spread out.

    By comparison, New York imposed restrictions when there were already 20,884 cases in their state (in a state of 20m people… 20x the cases in a state 1/2 the size).

    They are forecast to have a very sharp peak happening very quickly – in the next week. Their ICU beds will be far exceeded. Their current ventilators will be far exceeded.

    The numbers we are seeing for Santa Clara County and California now are NOT a sign that the restrictions were never necessary. They are a good case of showing that timely aggressive restrictions save lives and have worked.

    38 states have imposed restrictions. From an original forecast of 2.2 million deaths, that forecast has now been lowered to a range of 39,996 to 177,866 deaths due to primaryly to those restrictions.

    Source: https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections (also see all their forecasting comments, notes, changes, etc.)

    • I’m sorry Robert but you are mistaken regarding the forecast of deaths. The forecast has declined due to adjustments of faulty models, primarily the Imperial model. As they say “garbage in, garbage out”.
      There are currently NO studies or evidence that i am aware of that show the restrictions are working (or not working).

      • We are about to have one great study. California vs Mississippi where the governor refuses to pass a shelter in place order AND has made it illegal for any local government to do so.

        My money is on California on this one.

          • On 4/6/20:

            CA currently has 351 deaths, or 1 death per 9 Mil. people.
            Mississippi has 51 deaths, or 1 death per 17 Mil. people

  5. The Santa Clara County COVID19 Data dashboard and the Testing dashboard both have the same number of positive tests 1019.

    https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/DiseaseInformation/novel-coronavirus/Pages/dashboard.aspx

    Hooray! Data consistency.

    But the daily count of new cases is different for the two dashboards. The Tesimg dashboard looks more regular and more believable, whereas the Data dashboard just looks like someone got behind in their data entry and caught up by entering a bunch of cases on one day (March 30, 202 cases).

    If the Data dashboard used the Testing dashboard daily positive tests, the trend would be smoother and more meaningful (and probably more accurate).

  6. One critical category is missing from the dashboard—the number of people who died had an underlying health condition, most if not all of them who would probably have died from the regular flu, or the underlying condition. Nobody likes to see friends or relatives die, but it happens. The government response is unjustified by the level of risk and the weak numbers.

    • > One critical category is missing from the dashboard—the number of people who died had an underlying health condition, most if not all of them who would probably have died from the regular flu, or the underlying condition.

      YESSSSS!

      The way Santa Clara County is tracking the spread of coronavirus on their “dashboard” maximizes alarm and minimizes clear insight.

      I understand that the current rules of the moment say that if a person testing positive for coronavirus dies of ANYTHING, the cause of death is given as coronavirus.

      If this is the case, then it is likely that deaths due to cancer, heart disease, lung disorders, suicide, etcl are DECLINING.

      What the County Health Department SHOULD report on their dashboard is a period to period comparison between 2019 and 2020 of actually mortality (“death rates”) by age group., and then calculate/estimate the CHANGE in death rates and implied number of death due to coronavirus.

      For the junior college social science and humanities majors out there, this would be more — like, you know –“scientific”.

  7. Here’s some actual, real COVID-19 data:

    https://sjoutsidethebubble.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/ussroosevelt.jpg

    Exposure DOES NOT equal infection.

    Infection DOES NOT equal symptoms.

    Also, it is not clear what, if any, measures the ship took before the testing to contain the spread of the virus.

    Not an unlimited opportunity for “social distancing” on a ship, not even an aircraft carrier.

    It’s interesting that the total infected population was only 12%. It suggests that their is significant “herd immunity”.

    I doubt that sixty percent of the population of California is going to get COVID-19.

    • Don’t forget this one:

      – Infection DOES equal contagious.

      > It suggests that their is significant “herd immunity”.
      No, it does NOT suggest any kind of herd immunity. All it suggests is that 12% tested positive.

      BTW, where is your source?

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