July 24, 2021

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Data analysts fear exponential increase in COVID-19 on the island

The increase in confirmed positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Puerto Rico over the past two weeks could continue and be exponential, if no action is taken now, experts in statistical analyzes warned that They have kept observing the data on the behavior of the virus on the island.

"Growth is exponential, so if we do not act now, next week it will be worse and the following week it will be even worse" , affirmed Danilo Pérez Rivera, member and advisor of the group of scientists of the Puerto Rico Wisdom Coalition COVID-19 (COSACO).

The statements arise, above all, in the context of the announcement of new preventive measures at airports of the island announced on Tuesday by the governor Wanda Vázquez but which would begin to be implemented on July 15.

“We are two weeks from July 15, it seems to me more than enough time for it to begin in to rebound hospitalizations. If the recent cases that we are seeing will worsen in the next 7 to 14 days, those people will need to be hospitalized "explained the researcher.

Even with the new measures, which includes that all passengers must bring the negative result of a COVID-19 molecular test carried out 72 hours before arriving on the island, the effectiveness of the guidelines remains to be seen, since it will depend on the state's ability to implement them and compliance with the Travellers. In this sense, Pérez insisted that the citizens continue to apply the preventive measures already known.

"We have a lot of power (the citizens) in terms of how we control the spread of this infection," he emphasized.

Dr. José Rodríguez Orengo, director of the Public Health Trust, alerted on Tuesday in an interview with this newspaper about a reflected increase in positive cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks, a period that coincides with the reopening of more sectors of economic activity in the country. .

According to data obtained through the consortium that they have maintained since March with reference laboratories in the country, in the last two weeks there has been a "considerable" increase in the number of people infected, Rodríguez Orengo indicated. [19659009] The Health Department reported Thursday that the total number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 increased to 1,767 with an additional 38 infected, while the probable positive cases were placed they scored at 5,841 with 41 more positives. The number of hospitalized, on the other hand, stood at 97, after ten days of consecutive increase, which does not yet represent a change in terms of the average.

Reopening phases without parameters

The advisor COSACO scientist, a doctoral student at New York University specializing in Computational Biology, raised the flag that the executive orders that the governor has signed in relation to the phases of economic reopening do not contain parameters that allow establishing when to stop that reopening or establishing control measures to prevent the spread of SARS-Cov-2, the virus strain that causes COVID-19.

The Citizen Task Force COVID-19, a group of about 17 private citizens Experts in various areas of mathematics, medicine, science and law also alerted on that matter.

“Executive reopening orders contain neither metrics nor parameters, and heme s tried to give (the citizenry) some metrics and parameters to illustrate where we are "explained Francisco Colón Ramírez, a lawyer with an academic background in economics and statistics.

One of the members of the Citizen Task Force, Israel Meléndez , created a graph known as the “Covimeter”, which measures the trend in terms of growth in cases of COVID-19 on the island and establishes the range of danger of the level of contagion. Said range goes from green and yellow to orange and red, with levels from 0.1% to 10%, where the lowest range is the goal and the highest reflects an exponential increase with a growth that doubles every seven days.

The range this morning was placed in the orange color – or moderation range – with a growth rate of 1.1%, which is a reflection of a situation that is not under control, the group warned. [19659005] "It is not an opinion, we are looking at the data, we are already in a 1.1% growth situation," said Colón.

"Already with the area in orange, we have a problem, we are already entering a situation dangerous where one would expect some control measure to be implemented, not necessarily as severe as an initial total closure, but the idea of ​​knowing how you are is knowing what tool to respond to or how aggressive you have to be when responding ”held.

A panorama in red, for example, p He would hate to imply severe measures such as lockdown to reverse the situation, warned the group member, adding that "we can get to 10% very easy, but getting out of there is difficult, unfortunately it is difficult and it is impossible without some measure of control. The problem behind all this is that the impact of exponential growth tends to, or almost always, be underestimated. ”

According to the statistical model, with a growth rate of 5%, cases would be doubling every 14 days. But to reach the other extreme of 0.5%, which would reflect a situation under control, the duplication of cases should occur every 140 days and every 700 days if it is the optimum level of 0.1%.

"We do not want growth, we want to decrease daily new cases. Moderation sounds nice, but you do not want a growth of daily cases in moderation, that is bad, this means that the number of cases will gradually grow, "noted Colón.

In another graph about the changes in confirmed cases of COVID-19 versus changes in the number of hospitalizations, Colón superimposed the numbers of hospitalized due to the virus on the numbers of confirmed cases during the past months, applying a difference of 15 days between the report of hospitalizations and the date on which the case was confirmed by molecular testing.

In that analysis, he found that the peaks coincide with important dates, such as Mother's Day weekend, and other holidays such as Remembrance Day, the first phase of economic reopening. and the COVID-19 outbreak that was reported in Ciales.

"I am concerned that those who make decisions about what will happen to us (the citizenry) cannot be basing decisions solely on you on what is happening in hospitals, because you are looking at what happened on the street 15 days ago, you are reacting today, 15 days later and depending on the severity, it may be that you are reacting 15 days too late, "warned Colón .

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