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Letters to the Editor of the Pahrump Valley Times

Reader suggests more focus on issues

I would like to acknowledge and reciprocate Mr. Ferrell’s thoughts expressed in his PVT letter, May 20th, 2020. I agree on we would do much better focusing less on individuals and keep our focus on issues. Being less tribal and more individualistic to consider each other’s point of view is always a good starting point.

David Jaronik

Worldometer site good place to look for virus info

On March 15 this year, I said that if our COVID-19 outbreak followed that of China and South Korea’s it would be over by the end of April. It hasn’t followed, and isn’t over. There are extended ‘tails’ on the distributions of daily cases and deaths for the U.S. and most of the European countries.

Looking at the worldometer site (worldometer.info/coronavirus), you can now see the overall death rate (deaths/cases) is 7%, and CNN is displaying 65,173 deaths from 1,106,373 cases, or 5.9% in the U.S.

For comparison purposes, I have also taken to looking at the cases and deaths per million of population.

This will show the differences between countries and allow us to identify which countries are doing better. Worldometer has extended these data for our states. What is to be learned?

First, most of the European countries, including Italy, Spain, and the UK have death rates over 400 per million population. Ours passed 200 on May 2. A few are much lower, notably Austria and Germany, 60 and 80 respectively. What did they do differently?

Second, in Asia, Japan and South Korea, they have much lower death rates, four and five respectively. Again, not clear why. China’s data is somewhat suspect, but they have reported few cases in the past two months. I understand they had strict quarantine regulations, particularly for those testing positive. But didn’t Italy?

Third, in the Indian subcontinent, so little testing has been done, I don’t think much can be concluded for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, probably over a quarter of the world’s population. Is anyone watching the hospitals and graveyards?

Anyway, back to the U.S. States’ vary widely, from 1,200-plus per million for New York, to 12 for Wyoming and Alaska. I would pick out California and Texas for lower rates in populous states. California has about one-tenth the cumulative cases and one-twentieth the deaths when compared to New York State. Texas is similar. Again, it is not clear to me why that is so. Ferreting around worldometer source data (references at the end of each state’s data) I have been unable to reach even tentative conclusions.

Most of the states have been showing their cases and deaths on graphs/charts as cumulative data. That means each new day’s data is added to the previous and the new total is shown up to that date. New data is buried in the old. You lose the ability to easily see the trend with time e.g. when was the peak, how does this day’s data compare with the peak, how long before it will end. Real data very often ’fluctuates’ from day to day for practical reasons like the person(s) tabulating the data was sick, or more likely, people were too busy tending the sick to fill out the forms on time. However, the eyeball can easily smooth these kinds of data. When I see smooth, raw data, I am suspicious. I would doubt Iran’s because of this.

And then there is the curse of the logarithmic scale. Many states have been using logarithmic vertical(y) axis scales. Divisions are usually multiples of ten, e.g. 10, 100, 1,000, 100,000, … This means much of the data is ‘compressed’ toward the top of the chart and leads to what appears to be a ‘flattening’ of the curve. If you would like to demonstrate the difference between linear and logarithmic scales just go to the opening pages of worldometer and look at the world totals for cases and deaths. At the top of each graph you can switch from linear to log. Look at the difference (designed for politicians?)!

Anyway, we are relaxing our restrictions on business operations and people movement. Let’s hope the ‘new normal’ will allow our economy to recover without an increase in COVID-19 cases.

George Tucker

Nevada needs to recriminalize use of marijuana

It’s interesting the governor closed most all of the Nevada businesses and the wonderful gaming industry down. We’re told this action was in order to protect the Nevada families and children from COVID-19. Ok fine, hats off to Governor Sisolak, but his sincerity rings hollow. After seemingly backing the drug cartels in the poisoning of the great communities of Nevada with even more marijuana by openly violating the law of the land, Public Law 91-513, which prohibits the sale or possession of marijuana. Without concern for the health and safety of Nevada families and children he even signed destructive bills like forcing employers to take large liability risks forcing them to employ potentially high employees and marijuana addicts to operate equipment and interact with the public. Sisolak should hang his head in shame.

Oniy last Aug. 29th the surgeon general of the United States issued an official warning against the use of marijuana. Additionally, it’s more serious now than ever since it lowers the immune system, making the marijuana users more susceptible to COVID-19 along with most other diseases including cancer. Additionally, we now know smoking marijuana is causing cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome making people sick and killing some of them. We don’t know how many because no one is paying attention but the illness is growing and estimated to affect 2.7 million people at this time.

Nearly every county in Nevada (13 of them) voted overwhelmingly against eliminating state laws against marijuana. Now it’s time for Governor Sisolak and the State Legislature to grow up, put their big boy pants on and show some respect for Nevada’s families, children and their right to highway safety, safer drug and crime-free communities, drug-free schools and overall improved wellness and livability of Nevada’s great communities by recriminalizing the poison.

Frank C. Gardner

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