by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
To put the potential carnage in perspective, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says if his fellow Coloradans returned to pre-pandemic life they would experience more than seven times the death rate of New York and more than 21 times the death rate of Italy. The governor and his health department are saying a staggering 96 percent of people would catch COVID-19 and 45,000 people would require intensive care as a result. Colorado currently has just over 1,000 ICU beds. As such, they are implying almost 72,000 people would die — one out of every 80 people in the state.
While the United States and rest of the world panicked in response to a widely followed — subsequently discredited — Imperial College London report predicting 2.2 million U.S. deaths if we did nothing, Colorado’s modelers, led by Dean Jonathan Samet of the Colorado School of Public Health, determined that 2.2 million dead was too low. Samet and his team created a report for Polis on April 6 that showed Colorado’s no-mitigation fatalities would be above 80,000. Applying their simulated death figures to the entire United States would mean 4.5 million Americans would die from COVID-19.
On several occasions, Polis has presented Samet’s modeling as the basis for his decisions regarding restrictions. …
… How could Polis have such faith in a model? Well, primarily because it is never wrong — in fact, it’s designed that way. The model predicts outcomes that range from no one needing a hospital bed to everyone needing one. Then, whatever number of hospitalizations occurs, the model spits out a social distancing value that Coloradans must have been practicing to cause such numbers. Since social distancing is hard, if not impossible, to quantify for the entire state, the relationship between social activity and hospitalizations assumed in the model is never questioned, rendering the model de facto infallible.