To: Interested Parties
From: Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health
RE: Georgia’s Normal Data
Here at the Georgia Department of Public Health, we are committed to providing the public with an accurate picture of the coronavirus outbreak, free from any politicization. In the interest of transparency, we would like to address some recent questions about our data reporting.
Like the CDC and several other states, we have been including antibody tests in our count of completed viral tests. We realize this may have offered an inflated sense of Georgia’s current testing capacity—it was an honest mistake, and we apologize. We are also sorry for including flu tests, pregnancy tests, and results from our five-question online quiz, Do I Have The ‘Rona?? We think something is messed up with our computer.
Overall, however, we stand behind our methodology. Much fuss has been made over a graph on our website that originally presented data in non-chronological order. Taken at face value, the graph seemed to indicate that Georgia was experiencing a steady decline in new cases, but we fail to see how this was “misleading.” We gave the public all the numbers; if the public didn’t bother to put them in the right order, we feel like that’s on the public. What are we, the public’s mommy? Respectfully, grow up.
We have, on occasion, used Facetune on our data to smooth out Georgia’s infection curve. This was never intended to deceive anyone. Online beauty standards are out of control, and we acted to protect our data’s self-esteem.
Several senators have demanded an explanation for a graph that we blurred to the point of illegibility, like a license plate on COPS. Again, it’s outrageous to suggest that this was some kind of cover-up. Basically we went a little overboard with the Facetune, and the infection curve got too sexy. We wish everyone could see the uncensored version, but we are a family health department, at the end of the day.
We have been roundly mocked in the press for our latest chart of Georgia’s coronavirus transmission rate, which bears a passing resemblance to a Clip Art image of a stock market crash. “It has a little cartoon businessman in it,” many have noted. Guess what, losers? It’s a reference to the economy. We are grievously offended by the accusation that we simply typed “graph going down” into Google Images and copy-pasted the first result onto our website and we will not dignify it with any further discussion.
The department has received numerous inquiries about our recent decision to include, along with our numerical data, personal anecdotes from Georgians who are not afraid of the coronavirus. We contend that when it comes to understanding this crisis, real human stories are just as important as the numbers. If Cheryl Garble from Alpharetta has no symptoms (almost), loves her new haircut, and wants to encourage her fellow citizens to also get haircuts, we as scientists believe that is a story people should hear.
Finally, a projection that we published in early May seemed to suggest that 500 patients who had died from the coronavirus would soon come back to life. While this has not yet happened, we cannot rule out the possibility. There is so much we still don’t know about this virus.
We hope this has cleared up any lingering concerns, and we would ask that any additional questions be directed quietly to oneself during prayer. Oh, last thing, all of our graphs are meant to be viewed in a mirror. Be well, and happy reopening!