By: Mark Glennon
Remember April 21, the day Governor JB Pritzker “moved the goal post,” as we put it then, about COVID-19?
Well, the virus peaked before even that announcement. Pritzker pushed out a goal post that had already been passed. His new science was wrong from the start.
On April 21, when he extended the estimated peak to mid-May, he also announced he would be making changes to his stay-at-home order, which was about to expire at the end of that month, and he was setting the groundwork for his highly controversial reopening plan. And on April 23 he introduced some of the experts who described the new projections he was relying on and defend the new science.
The evidence of the day-to-day course of the virus closest to being timely is hospitalizations for it, as Pritzker himself has said. They peaked on April 28 and dropped ever since, as you can see on the chart below. (Full data are here.)
But even those numbers lag the true course of the virus by about 13 days, according to Center for Disease Control numbers.* That indicates the virus peaked about April 15 — well before Pritzker even announced that it would peak later.
The most important number – deaths – indicate the same thing.
Deaths peaked in Illinois on May 9, but they are a very lagging indicator. They get reported about three three weeks after the date of infection, and probably longer, on average.** Subtract those three weeks and you get to April 18, which is also before Pritzker announced he was moving the goal post out further. Death numbers vary heavily from day-to-day, so we show below a five-day moving average:
The bottom line is clear: Pritzker’s new science was wrong even before he announced it. And that was just when Pritzker needed to build up his case for extending his stay-at-home order and his reopening plan, which has been rated the harshest in the nation, a plan that makes no sense on its face.
We recognize that all projections on this topic have large margins of error and that new things are learned about the virus each day, so we are more than willing to cut plenty of slack to projections that turned out wrong.
However, because this error is so large and was so immediate, it is yet another indication to be added to others that Pritzker’s science and data have been unsound, and they certainly have not been as objectively certain as he constantly claims. That science and data, on which is his still relying, proved to be wrong before he even announced it, raising further doubts about whether he has distorted the crisis for political reasons.
We questioned his science and data from the start, and the links are below. Back in March, the state wasn’t even collecting critical hospitalization data, and only started when criticized. He failed to properly characterize virus as a serious threat only to at-risk groups, which are basically the older population (86% of Illinois coronavirus deaths are over age 50 and 92% of Cook County victims had comorbidities) and those in retirement facilities (about half of Illinois’ deaths). He changed his rationale for his emergency order from bending the curve and avoiding hospital overload to irrational goals that may be impossible ever to meet. To this day, he has stonewalled antibody testing data that tend to show lower infection death rates, which other states use to inform policy. He yet to provide that true infection fatality rate. His press conferences were stage-managed to avoid any chance of being seriously questioned.
None of this should be taken to imply, however, that COVID-19 shouldn’t be taken very seriously by those who are older or have known comorbidities. Six thousand Illinoisans have died from it, the threat is severe for at-risk groups and the virus could well surge again.
But this should indeed be about science and data, as Pritzker says, and we don’t trust his.
–Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.
*According to the Center for Disease Control, the time from exposure to the virus to symptom onset is about six days, and the time from symptom onset to hospitalization is about seven days.
**Six days from exposure to the virus to symptom onset, plus 14 days from symptom onset to death, plus seven days from death to reporting, according to the CDC.
Read more about COVID-19 and the impact on Illinois:
- Questions Illinois Reporters Should Ask Governor Pritzker and Dr. Ezike – Wirepoints
- Never mind the courts, says Pritzker. Only his views of the ‘science and data’ matter.
- COVID-19 Appears to Have Peaked and be Declining in Illinois – For Now
- COVID-19 spreads to half of all Chicagoland retirement homes. How did this happen?
- COVID-19 deaths and pre-existing conditions. What Illinois’ data says about who’s at risk
- Pritzker doubles down on linking critics and Republicans to Nazism, anti-Semetism or whatever
- Facing Growing Defiance, Pritzker Thumbs Nose at AG Opinion, Insults and Threatens Dissidents
- Pritzker’s overly-restrictive shutdown rules make Illinois a national outlier
- Half of Illinois’ deaths linked to retirement homes. Five key facts you should know.
- Indifference to Illegality of Illinois Stay-at-Home Order is Frightening
- Wirepoints analysis reveals 92 percent of Cook County COVID-19 victims had pre-existing conditions
- With New FDA Action, Gov. Pritzker and Dr. Ezike Have No Excuse for Further Stonewalling Antibody Testing
- Pritzker’s top-down reopen strategy will fail large parts of IL: He should expect pushback
- Governor Pritzker’s Plan to Reopen Illinois Makes No Sense
- COVID-19: Seven facts that tell us Illinoisans can and must get back to work
- Illinois’ COVID-19 crisis: Daily data update