Author Archives: Sean D. Sorrentino

NC COVID numbers 4-8-2020

Link to NC COVID-19 Dashboard – https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19/covid-19-nc-case-count

Our daily numbers show the following changes from yesterday

  • 1,905 new tests
  • 205 new cases
  • 32 more hospitalizations
  • 7 more deaths

Hospitals seem to be holding their own with 42+% of their regular beds and 75% of ICU beds unoccupied, as well as 75% of ventilators sitting idle. If there is to be a “surge” of new cases, we’re not seeing it yet. We’re seem to be in a “wait and see” mode until it hits or we judge that it’s over.

Again, here are some links if you need help.

NC COVID numbers 4-7-2020

Our daily numbers show the following changes from yesterday

  • 356 new tests
  • 351 new cases
  • 84 more hospitalizations
  • 13 more deaths

These numbers don’t make a whole lot of sense to me. 356 tests came back, but 351 were positive? What’s going on there? In what world do nearly 100% of tests come back positive?

No matter what’s going on, it’s clear that today was a bad day. Probably the worst so far. It’s the biggest jump in all the important numbers. We will have to see how things continue over the next week so we know if this is an outlier day or a harbinger of things to come.

We are still seeing the typical distribution of deaths by age. Out of the total of 46 COVID deaths in NC, three were between 25-49, six between 50-64, and 37 were 65 or over.


And while we see that slightly more women get diagnosed with COVID, men outnumber women in the death count nearly 3 to 1.

Again, here are some links if you need help.

NC COVID numbers 4-6-2020

Our daily numbers show the following changes from yesterday

  • 681 new tests
  • 285 new cases
  • 9 more hospitalizations
  • 2 more deaths

Both hospital beds and ICU beds are at their lowest occupancy rate since I started tracking them, and ventilators are showing about 76% idle. We still seem to have quite a bit of excess space in case this ramps up.

We are still seeing a very low rate of “positive” tests. Remember that they are only testing the most serious cases, not just random people who want tested. Out of 40,726 completed tests we’re seeing only 2,870 positive tests. That’s just a tiny bit over 7%.

Again, here are some links if you need help.

NC COVID numbers 4-5-2020

Our daily numbers show the following changes from yesterday

  • 1,272 new tests
  • 183 new cases
  • 10 fewer hospitalizations
  • 7 more deaths

I’m not sure that the bed count is useful this time as the data comes from only 62% of hospitals reporting. In any case, we can see that there is still significant empty bed space both in regular beds and in ICU beds.

There is usually a second update to the numbers during the day, but there wasn’t one today. I take that as a good sign. It’s Sunday, so I suspect people had some time off. Why is that a good sign? Because if they were truly panicked, no one would get even a minute off, and no one would have gotten away with a bed census reflected less than 2/3rds of the hospitals in the state.

Again, here are some links if you need help.

NC COVID numbers 4-4-2020

Our daily numbers show the following changes from yesterday

  • 7,175 new tests
  • 309 new cases
  • 12 more hospitalizations
  • 5 more deaths

We are currently showing an approximate “death rate” (number of deaths divided by the total number of “confirmed cases”) of about 1%. This sounds wildly high for “just the flu,” but bear in mind that they are not testing anyone who doesn’t have symptoms or has “mild” symptoms. Quoting from Wake County (Raleigh, NC) guidance…

In general, patients who have mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19 do not need testing for COVID-19 and should be instructed to stay and recover at home. Also, please do not test patients who are not sick or who have already recovered from a respiratory illness.

Clinicians should use their clinical judgment and prioritize testing of patients for whom clinical management would be different if they are infected with COVID-19 and patients in high risk categories (e.g., patients in long-term or congregate care settings, elderly and/or those with respiratory comorbidities, health care workers, and first responders).

Wake County is the largest county in NC by population, having just passed Mecklenburg County in the last few months.

Our hospital and ICU bed count continues to look good as does our count of free ventilators. More than 3/4ths of our ventilators statewide are currently idle.

As a State, we appear to be in good shape. Let’s hope that remains the case.

Again, here are some links if you need help.

NC COVID numbers 4-3-2020

Our topline numbers are 2,919 new tests, 236 more confirmed cases, 75 more hospitalizations, and 3 more deaths since yesterday. We have plenty of both regular and ICU beds, but the ICU total has jumped more than 200 people overnight. While this might seem a lot, it’s actually a jump of just 9 people from two days ago. That makes me wonder if maybe yesterday’s data was incorrect somehow. Perhaps they reported 635 when what they really meant was 835. In any case, we’re basically the exact same place we were two days ago in terms of ICU beds.

Our ventilator count is increasing. Two days ago they reported 2,519 ventilators. Yesterday 2,818. Today they’re reporting 3,014. That’s really good news. At the same time the total number of patients actually on respirators has dropped. Two days ago it was 670, then up to 691 yesterday, and now down to 652. That’s good news.

Let’s look today at the demographics of our deaths. We have 19 deaths. How are they distributed among the population

Out of 19 dead, 2 were between 25 and 49, 2 were between 50 and 64, and 15 were over 65. This tracks with what we’ve been told. This is killing older people, fairly standard for a virus of this type.

For a disease that appears not to discriminate among cases, it sure seems to discriminate in deaths. Only 6 of the 19 deaths were female vs 13 males. If you’re a man over 65, please do your best not to catch this. I’m talking to you, Dad. And you, too, Father in Law.

Looking at the deaths, it appears that the breakdown among deaths is not really that far off from the racial makeup of North Carolina as a whole. In NC about 69% are white, 22% or so are black, and the remainder are Asian, “Other,” mixed race, and Native American. Whites are very slightly overrepresented in the deaths, but with such a very small sample size it’s the literally just one extra in the “white” column and one less in the “other” column from being almost exactly the same as our statewide racial distribution. So at least the virus isn’t racist as well as sexist. I can’t comment on the racial distribution among the total number of confirmed cases as they are missing race data for 653 patients out of 2,093. We can’t honestly report on anything where they’re missing data on over 31% of the total cases.

I continue to be impressed with the data that NC DHHS is putting out. It places all the information I want to know into some sort of context so not only do I know the info, but I can understand it. That’s actually hard to do. Good on them for doing it.

Once again, I’ll reiterate what I said for the last two days. If you need income assistance and/or unemployment, go get it. I’m just going to copy/paste what I put yesterday…

NC DHHS has income assistance – https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services
NC Dept of Employment Security has unemployment – https://des.nc.gov/

Do what you need to do to feed yourself and your family. No one will ever look down on you for needing assistance to ride out this god awful mess. I’m safe and sound, so the best thing I can be doing right now is contributing my tax dollars to seeing you get fed. Go get it. Make me happy.

And if you’re at the end of your rope,
1. Don’t be a dick. You’ve got work to do. People need you. Stick around and be useful. Seriously, people NEED you.
2. Get in touch with these guys. They’re our friends. They will help you out. https://walkthetalkamerica.org/

NC COVID Numbers 4-2-2020

Here’s today’s COVID numbers for April 2nd, 2020 here in North Carolina.


As you can see, they’ve changed how they display the data, but the essentials are still there. Since yesterday we have 2,436 more completed tests, 273 more confirmed cases, 7 more deaths, but 20 fewer COVID patients in hospital. Compared to yesterday we have 300 fewer empty hospital beds, but 221 more free ICU beds. I’m wondering if that means that quite a few formerly ICU patients were moved to regular beds. If so, good for them. ICU is a terrible place.

We are still seeing an approximate 6.5% rate of COVID tests coming back positive, which seems like a good thing to me. We’re likely only testing people who seem to have all the symptoms, so even when testing the actually sick, we’re seeing 93.5% of them come back negative for COVID. And when we compare the total number of positive tests to the number of people hospitalized, we see it’s now less than 10%. This number seemed significant to me yesterday, but the more I think about it, the less it seems important. What would be really useful is the total number of people EVER hospitalized due to COVID rather than the total number hospitalized RIGHT NOW. I’m sure quite a few of those 1,857 positive test patients have since recovered. It really doesn’t tell us much that they aren’t currently in the hospital.

Now for the Walmart Report: I walked through our local Walmart, which is the main grocery store in the area. The “good” grocery store is a bit over 15 miles away, so most of our groceries come from here.

Our Walmart is really well stocked, considering all the panic we went through about a week ago. There’s still not a sheet of toilet paper in the whole place. There are a few rolls of paper towels, but not much and not the brand name stuff.

Rice and beans are thin. Not gone, but if you’re brand picky, you might be out of luck. On the other hand, if you’re good with a very large bag, say 20 lbs, you have a couple choices. And there are lots of those “kit” rice things where you can make two to four servings of instant rice if you’re in to that sort of thing.

Ramen looked like it had been attacked by starving undergrads. Even so, there were quite a few “cup o noodles” style packs and about a dozen 12 packs of my favorite, Maruchan Ramen in Chicken flavor.

Cleaning supplies look like rationing was imposed. There was bleach, but not much. Still, if you weren’t super brand picky, you could get what you needed to clean your house.

Eggs and milk were not at normal levels, but you wouldn’t actually feel bad about taking two instead of the sign mandated one of each. There were significant holes in the prepared frozen foods section, but again, don’t be picky, there is plenty to choose from.

Big surprises for me were ice cream and those tubes of cinnamon rolls and biscuits. Apparently people are starting their days with cinnamon rolls and ending with ice cream. Honestly, that sounds pretty good for quarantine.

Beer and wine were slam full. You couldn’t carry out enough beer from the beer aisle to make a dent in what they had. Not without help, at least.

The fresh fruit and vegetables were plentiful and to my eye at least looked delicious. There is absolutely no shortage of that.

And finally, they had a giant wall of water in the front of the store. Around here we worry about hurricane caused loss of power, so people buy water. For people like me, on a community well that shuts down when the power goes out, that makes sense. For Raleigh city water customers it’s a silly waste of money as Raleigh’s water system is so overbuilt that it would take a nuclear blast to disrupt it.

Bottom line: You aren’t going to go hungry here. Walmart has done a damn fine job of reacting to the demand spikes. I’ll bet that there are some really smart guys somewhere working out what things people grab first in strange situations like these and we’ll see them push cinnamon rolls, ice cream, and toilet paper out first next time we have a disruption. Honestly, I’d rather have cinnamon rolls and ice cream than the standard bread and milk, so I’m going to let The Wife know to prioritize those items for next time!

I’m going to repeat some things I said yesterday. I am totally taken care of by my job. I’m not in need of anything. My pay continues as I work (sort of) from home. That means my tax dollars are still coming out and contributing in at least some measure to the relief aid that the various governments are handing out. If you’re out of work for this, go straight to your unemployment commission’s website and SIGN UP. Part of the relief package from the Feds is a “Unemployment on Steroids” program. Don’t be so proud that you can’t take some of my tax money to feed your family. If you’re getting screwed over by this, you should get paid. Go get it.

In NC:
NC DHHS has income assistance – https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services
NC Dept of Employment Security has unemployment – https://des.nc.gov/

Also, if you’re at the end of your rope, don’t be an idiot. Get help. Get yourself well so we can count on you later when we start trying to put this all back together. Get in touch with these guys. They’re our friends. They will help you out. https://walkthetalkamerica.org/

Keep your chin up. It’s rough, but we’ll find a way through it no matter what.

NC COVID Numbers 4-1-2020

Update on the NC COVID numbers available HERE. (Note, this links to a page that is updated every day. When you link to it, it will be current for the day you get there, not necessarily for the day I linked it.)

The numbers continue to rise (slowly so far). We’re up one death from 8 yesterday to 9 today. We have 3,137 more tests with 86 more confirmed cases and 47 more people hospitalized. What’s really good news is that we’ve got 94% of hospitals currently reporting and we’re still showing 40% of hospital beds and 26.5% of ICU beds free. (I’m maintaining a day to day spreadsheet to track these numbers over time)

After finishing the blog post yesterday NC DHHS added what amounts to a “supplemental” page that gives a really good overview of the current situation, including where all the hospital patients are located, a graph of how many cases by what date they collected the sample, and, my favorite, a measurement of patients on ventilators to total number of available ventilators.

That is a reassuring number. We currently have more than 2,100 ventilators available to any incoming patients for any reason.

If you’re reading this in a different state, maybe contact the DHHS equivalent in your state and ask them why they’re not putting out the same information. We can’t expect one person in Washington DC to put this together, but we certainly can ask our states to put together the information for them.

On a personal note, due to the nature of my job (which will remain shrouded in mystery out of respect for my employer) I went out today. I went to two locations for my job and then stopped in at The Wife’s parents’ house to trade supplies. Roads are dead quiet. I stopped at the grocery store near their house and didn’t see too much in the way of sort supplies. There are definitely some shortfalls, but there are so many choices that I can’t imagine people couldn’t find something that they could eat. The frozen prepared foods are kind of thin. Lots of choices still, but much thinner than the usual “OMG HOW CAN I CHOOSE FROM SO MANY OPTIONS!” we are used to. Keep your chin up. If you’re having financial troubles (and anyone out of work will be) make sure to avail yourself of any and all options.

NC DHHS has income assistance – https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services
NC Dept of Employment Security has unemployment – https://des.nc.gov/

Do what you need to do to feed yourself and your family. No one will ever look down on you for needing assistance to ride out this god awful mess. I’m safe and sound, so the best thing I can be doing right now is contributing my tax dollars to seeing you get fed. Go get it. Make me happy.

And if you’re at the end of your rope,
1. Don’t be a dick. You’ve got work to do. People need you. Stick around and be useful. Seriously, people NEED you.
2. Get in touch with these guys. They’re our friends. They will help you out. https://walkthetalkamerica.org/

NC COVID Numbers 3-31-2020

Coronavirus News & Updates | Homeland Security

Helpfully the NC Department of Health and Human Services posts the statewide COVID case numbers every day. I thought it might be helpful to monitor those numbers in one place.

This is really a good idea. Every state should be doing something similar.

The next question is, how does this track over time? Luckily I checked the numbers yesterday and I can compare.

Since yesterday we’ve had 2,242 more tests, 157 more confirmed cases, 20 more in hospital, and 2 more deaths. As for hospital beds, we’ve got nearly 40% of regular beds vacant and almost 25% of ICU beds vacant.

Currently there’s not a whole lot we can say about this situation. Here in NC we’re not being hit very hard by this, but we can’t say if it’s “not yet” or “not ever” until we see how it goes over the next 2-3 weeks. So don’t take this information and immediately leap to the conclusion that we’re blowing this way out of proportion.

On a side note, if you are from a different state and can track the numbers on your blog, please do. I can’t possibly track all 50 states plus territories, and the CDC is doing a terrible job of displaying the data in useable format. If you’ve got the time, please handle your state. If your state is not publishing the data, harass them until they do. Tell them to follow the basic format that NC is using and point them to our DHHS COVID website.

EDITED TO ADD: NC DHHS just added “expanded data” that’s a fantastic resource. A quick look through shows that statewide we have 670 patients on ventilators (for any reason) out of a total of 2,519 ventilators. That’s a great sign that we have plenty of capacity right now. Go check out the data HERE

OMG! Gun school in Virginia will be a FELONY!

Stop. Just stop. You’re being stupid.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That §18.2-433.2 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§18.2-433.2. Paramilitary activity prohibited; penalty.

A person shall be is guilty of unlawful paramilitary activity, punishable as a Class 5 felony if he:

1. Teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or

2. Assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, intending to employ such training for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or

3. Assembles with one or more persons with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm, any explosive or incendiary device, or any components or combination thereof.

OMGWTFBBQ! It says ” Assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, ” and that will make gun school a crime!

No it won’t. There’s a really good reason that it won’t. Because that part of the bill is already law. Here’s the actual law as it currently stands

§ 18.2-433.2. Paramilitary activity prohibited.

A person shall be guilty of unlawful paramilitary activity, punishable as a Class 5 felony if he:

1. Teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or

2. Assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, explosive or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, intending to employ such training for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder.

1987, c. 720.

In Virginia the agreed upon fashion for writing bills is to put anything you’re deleting from the current law you strikethrough and put anything you’re adding in italics. Reading the bill, aside from minor changes the only thing added is paragraph 3, the part that says “if you assemble and parade about trying to scare the shit out of people, that’s totally a crime, guys, and we’re going to arrest you. Oh, BTW, it’s a Class 5 felony.”

For Class 5 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

There’s certainly a case to be made that this law could be misused to go after open carry groups and armed 2A marchers, but even that’s a bit of a stretch. In order to be guilty of a crime you have to intend to intimidate. No one cares if your average whiny Demanding Mommy acts like she’s being intimidated, you have to be “drilling, parading, or marching” with the express purpose of intimidating them. It’s Tam’s “Open Carrying” vs. “Open Carrying AT people.”

There’s another, perhaps less obvious, reason that gun training will not be considered “Paramilitary Training.” It’s how the law (the actual current law) is written. This part…

…knowing or having reason to know or intending that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder…

You can continue to teach people to defend themselves. What you can’t do is knowingly teach people how to use guns, bombs, firebombs, or “other technique” so that they can go out and murder a bunch of people.

And you know what? I’m totally OK with that.