Numbers do not stand still in an evolving medical crisis

Alister Wm Macintyre - October 21 2010, 11:50 PM

3 days ago, there was no one dead, or reported sick in a crisis.

Within maybe 2 days (Oct 20 to now) masses of people descended on several hospitals, overwhelming them. We are now (Oct 21) at 135 people dead, 1500 sick (who have been able to get to hospital ...

some died on way to hospital).

Maybe 3 days from now it will be 1,000 people dead and 100,000 sick.

At various moments, doctors report #s dead and sick (at the hospital) in various communities, then health authorities combine the #s reported from all the hospitals, say here are the accumulated #s for the whole nation.

Some people die from other causes, like the flooding.

Until doctors examine results from dead, they don't know for sure how someone died, and right now the doctors are overwhelmed, they cannot treat everyone who needs to be treated, which means there will be people who got to the hospital, and die, because not enough doctors, or supplies to help them.

News media pick up stories, copy other news media stories.

A week from now, there will be news media publishing their first story about this, and they will report the 44 dead, or 49 dead, or 53 dead, or 83 dead, or whatever the # was from earlier on Oct 21. Different news stories will pick up different versions of the progress of the disease.

You cannot expect all information sources to have the latest info.

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