Our governor has signed a new executive order — his 135th since March 11 — mandating the use of face masks statewide in most "indoor spaces" and when using taxis or mass transit. The main justification given for this new government restriction on personal freedom was the alleged "spike" in new cases of COVID-19 in Colorado over the past few weeks.
The governor's action inspired me to take a closer look at the published data on new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the state health department's official website. I was surprised to see that there is no clear data supporting the governor's recent action. For example, the first 15 days of June saw 114 deaths reported, but the same period in July — July 1-15 — saw only 44 deaths reported. That is a decline of over 60%, not an increase.
What about "new cases"? Well, the data do not warrant the public panic generated by alarmist news reporting. Statewide daily testing increased from 4,481 on June 15 to 10,956 on July 15, an almost 250% increase. With 5% of persons testing positive on both dates, the state would have added 224 new cases on June 15 and then 549 new cases on July 15. And yet, despite this vast expansion of testing the total number of new cases reported by the health department grew only 16% over that same 30-day period. A 250% increase in testing over 30 days but only a 16% increase in total new cases: Why is that not good news?
Now, considering that the number of new cases daily had DROPPED BY 44% the previous month — from 362 new cases on May 20 to only 201 new cases on June 20 — how is a 16% increase in mid-July reason for such alarm after testing had expanded nearly 250% in one month? Does the governor's calculator need a new battery?
While it is true that hospitalizations have increased slightly in mid-July compared to the last week of June, all available data tells us that a large percentage of the new cases are among a younger population with a far lower susceptibility to serious illness. That change results in steadily declining mortality rates in Colorado for persons under 65 years of age.
Pardon my skepticism, but there is plenty of room for honest dissent from the hysteria over a "spike" in new cases.
Despite the positive trends in the numbers that really count as measures of the pandemic's threat to public health, officials at the state health department have persuaded our masked governor that the entirely predictable, mild uptick in "new cases" warrants more government mandates on Coloradans. And credulous columnists have labeled justified dissenters "selfish bastards."
Coloradans deserve better — from our news media, partisan columnists, and a governor seemingly addicted to government by edict.
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