Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Numbers? The LA County Health Department Cannot be Trusted with Them

Does Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer not understand mathematics, or does she count on the public to be ignorant and trusting?

February 25, 2022 - Today, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health, is graciously allowing Los Angeles County residents to unmask indoors - after showing vaccine verification and provided the business owner takes other precautions. The unvaccinated are not allowed to take off their masks because, as Ferrer said yesterday to the press, the vaccinated "get infected at a lower rate," and thus "it's a safer environment" to unmask when only the vaxxed are gathered together.

It is clear that none of Ferrer's many degrees are in the field of mathematics. Or perhaps she does understand the math and counts on the public to be too ignorant or trusting to figure out the distortions, inaccuracies, and outright lies her department has told over the course of the pandemic.

Let's start with the claim the vaccinated get infected from Covid-19 at a lower rate. She is correct. Since June 1 to February 22, the vaccinated have gotten infected at a lower rate. The average difference in infection rates between the vaccinated and unvaccinated - taking into account their percent in the population - is 7.3%.

7.3%. That's it. That's the safety factor you achieve by removing all the unvaccinated from your midst. (see That's what you get for stopping customers at the door and turning them away. That's what you get for turning neighbors and relatives against one another. Congratulations. Distortion number one.

Two days ago, the health department made the claim that, "For the week ending February 12, county residents who were unvaccinated were more than two and half times more likely to be infected when compared to individuals who were fully vaccinated."

Leaving aside that the Health Department cherry-picked this particular week, actually an outlier considering most of the data, this is not a logical way to look at the situation. For the purposes of public health and creating safe situations, you want to know the chances of coming across the disease in a vaxxed as opposed to an unvaxxed person. This is not the same as the chance of catching the disease should you be vaxxed or unvaxxed. You want to know if it makes sense to exclude the unvaccinated or if that makes the situation 'safer.'

So let's look at the Health Department's cherry-picked week. 35.7% of the new cases that week were among the vaxxed. That means you still had a 35.7% chance of catching Covid from a vaccinated person if you were going to encounter Covid at all. While it's less than the chance of catching it from an unvaccinated person, it is by no means nothing. But more damning is when you take a look at the data for the week previous to that chosen so carefully by the Health Department. 82% of new cases were among the vaccinated. During the week following, 78.1% of the new cases were among the vaccinated. In both cases, these numbers were higher than their percentage of the population. So who do you want in the room with you then: the vaxxed or the unvaxxed?

Now let's talk about deaths. LADPH plays big games with Covid death numbers. In answer to a media query, they admitted, "we use a broad definition of attributing any non-accidental/traumatic death to covid if that death occurs <30 days of a positive covid test (used to <60 days until recently)." Recently is January 1, 2022. So any death, whether or not one had recovered from Covid, that occurs within a month (but for most of the pandemic it was two months), is considered to be from Covid. An individual could have recovered from Covid and then died of a heart attack, but it is still a Covid death, for example.

Ferrer attempted to recover from this over-calculation during the February 3 media briefing, where she showed a slide in which her department allegedly calculated where Covid had been the true "underlying cause of death." The slide showed that 90% of the deaths were in fact from Covid. But at this point, do we believe them? For that matter, she did not change her Covid death count to match this new, lower number. It remains at the inflated number.

Ferrer claims her policies are based on science and not politics. While that may be debatable, does she even have a grasp of science?


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