Killer Kate takes down 267

I've written about a lot of topics on this blog in the last seven months, but none have been hotter than Oregon's decision to inoculate teachers and school workers against Covid instead of doing what the vast majority of other states are doing, which is vaccinating seniors first. The responses from my fellow oldies have been flooding in.

One outraged reader pointed out to me in an email that more than 80 percent of Covid-"involved" deaths are of people 65 and over. He suggested that vaccinating younger people first means that more people will die. His logic seems uncontestable.

I ran some numbers just to see how many people my reader might be talking about. Just a crude calculation, nothing that would pass an exam in a statistics course. But something to talk about. You non-math majors may want to skip a few paragraphs here while I explain.

Over the last 10 days, Oregonians have died of Covid-related problems at the rate of 17 a day. 

The national statistics tell us that 81 percent of such deaths are people over 65. So that's 13.8 of the 17 people.

Breaking the numbers down a little further, 21.3 percent of total deaths are people 65 to 74. Another 27.6 percent are people 75 to 84. And 32.1 percent are people are over 85.

For Oregon that would mean 3.6 deaths a day between 65 and 74; 4.6 deaths a day between 75 and 84; and 5.5 deaths a day at age 85 and above.

Now, let's say that the state is making people 85 and over wait an extra two weeks; making people 75 to 84 wait an extra four weeks; and making people 65 to 74 wait an extra six weeks. That leads to 357 deaths total.

But on the other side of the ledger, vaccinating the younger people will save some of their lives. We're told that 18.8 percent of deaths are among those age 25 to 64. That's 3.2 lives saved per day by poking those folks sooner.

Let's say that of the 3.2 daily deaths averted, a third are getting vaccinated two weeks sooner than they would otherwise. Another third are going four weeks early. The other third are going six weeks early. The crude calculation of deaths per day averted times days saved brings us to 90 lives saved in that group.

So you lose 357 seniors, but you save 90 teachers and school workers. The difference is 267 bodies.

I know, these numbers are hopelessly crude. But there is some number of lives that are going to be lost, and it's not small. And this is how the angry elderly are thinking. If they live that long, they won't be voting for Governor Kate Brown for anything ever again. She'll be 62 when her term is up, and so she may be thinking about one more elective office. It isn't going to happen.

The one guy told me he's looking at "populist" candidates. We all know what that's code for.

UPDATE, that night: An alert reader points out that the vaccine may be only 90 percent effective. So that would make it 321 seniors lost, and 81 teachers and school workers saved, for a net loss of 240 people.


  1. She's a lame-duck Governor now so she likely cares little about the political consequences of anything she does.

    1. She probably wants Wyden's job. Or a judgeship. Sixty-two is young for a politician these days.

  2. It’s a morbid calculus, but you’re not taking life expectancy into account. 90 lives that otherwise expect to live an additional 40 years vs 360 seniors that otherwise would live 10 years is the same amount of life years.

    It will take one week at 15,000 per day to vaccinate all the teachers and staff in Oregon. Given the price paid by working age and young people - out of work, losing their businesses, ruining kids education and mental health- all for the sake of saving the lives of mostly elderly people, I don’t think asking elderly to wait a week is too much to ask vs waiting another 7 weeks to vaccinate all 700,000 seniors.

  3. There is no science behind letting teachers cut in front of the elderly. Quite the opposite. Which is why science based states like Florida, who's schools have been open all school year, are taking care of seniors while not seeing teachers sacrificed.
    Kate Brown excuses are fallacious and fail to justify her political decisions.

    1. Yes, please tell us about science-based Florida, which defiantly hosted super-spreader spring break events and which has 2.5 times the number of cases and deaths per capita as Oregon. And that's using Florida's officially-reported stats, which are at the very least suspect having been shown to have been not-so-scientifically fudged downward.

      The math is simple: vaccinating teachers first means a one-week delay for seniors, but also gets 20 kids back in school and maybe 2 or 3 parents back to work.

    2. The facts and science meant Florida (One of the parents back to work states) schools and everything else opened without a vaccine. Yet you seem convinced Oregon must stay closed just cuz Kate says so? The only reason Oregon schools remain closed is the union. There is no scientific reason to make teacher vaccines a prerequisite for opening schools. That is a political decision. Same goes for restaurants etc and getting parents back to work.

    3. Florida science apparently also means banning mask mandates - the highest ROI measure we can take against COVID.
      Your conclusory statements aside, Florida's unemployment rate went from 2.8 to 6.4 in the 12 months up to November 2020; Oregon's went from 3.4 to 6.0. So, again, Florida has both worse unemployment and 2.5 times (or up to 5 times) the case and death rates.
      The OP is quibbling about a dubious 240 or 267 deaths (from what should be a one week delay) and you are proposing we be like Florida, where we would have at least 2,800 extra deaths if we had their same death rate.
      In what way does science say Florida is doing better?

    4. There is nothing to support your presumption of worse had we been opened. Nothing. How is it you can possible believe that? Never mind the methods and reliability of counting COVID cases and deaths are no way the same in both states. You're grasping and making excuses for Kate Brown and the destructive closure in our state.

  4. An empty suit that backed into the Governor's office, and is still there because Oregon Democrats have no one with enough smarts or gumption to challenge her. Her incompetence has been costly, in so many ways, none more stark and obvious as now.


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