Creates false impression that Covid-19 is better controlled in Iowa
During the Kim Reynolds daily Covid-19 press conference Friday I noticed that the Reynolds map for applying her “metrics” to decide the need for further action to shutdown activities put Linn County in one region and Johnson County in another. According to the guidelines set by her office – that a region must hit a score of 10 out of 12 to call for a further upgrade of actions – neither region scores above a nine.
However, if the arbitrarily assigned regional line were moved to include Linn County in with Johnson County’s region there is no doubt that the region would far exceed guidelines for further action.
In the Covid-19 county map for Friday the highest number of cases is clustered in Eastern Iowa in the upper portion of region 5. This would include Johnson(185 cases), Washington(70), Louisa(56), Muscatine(80) and Scott(99) counties. We would add in Cedar County(20 cases) which is nearly surrounded by the aforementioned counties. That is 510 cases. By themselves that is over 1/3 of the 1388 cases reported as of Friday.
Johnson County and Linn County are known in the state as the Corridor since such a huge amount of activity flows back and forth between them. Small cities between the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids have grown into some decent sized communities. To separate two cities and counties that are so intertwined especially for the purposes of trying to control an epidemic is to deny reality. The Cedar Rapids – Iowa City Corridor should be put together in any meaningful analysis of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Johnson and Linn counties are also the center of the other counties that are at the center of the outbreak in Eastern Iowa, maybe with the exception of Scott County. Yet all the counties in the upper part of region 5 plus Linn County share a huge amount of interaction. Thus for a the purposes of serious analysis, Linn County should be lumped in with the rest of what is one of the most vibrant economic areas of the state.
Add Linn County’s 225 cases of Covid-19 as of Friday to the aforementioned 510 cases and we have 735 cases or well over half of the total.
By splitting Linn County from the other counties that they interact with and putting them in a region that is highly rural really dilutes the impact of the high amount of infections in Linn County. At the same time it also dilutes the impact of the high numbers in the counties around Johnson and Scott counties.
By diluting the meaning and impact of the counties with the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the state, Governor Reynolds has created a method to avoid doing anything to confront the epidemic where it is worst. Said another way she has found a way to avoid doing her job.
A simple fix to this arbitrarily created statistical misrepresentation would be to simply add yet another arbitrary region into the mix for this counties mentioned above. These counties have more in common with each other than they do with the other counties in their current regions. Such a change would also serve to do what Reynolds claimed the current system is supposed to do – focus attention where it is needed.
How about it Governor? It would be the right thing to do.