I’m not sure anyone wants to hear from a 71-year-old white Oak Park resident — even if he has lived here since 1976. I’ll just say that I am very sorry for the family of George Floyd, and hope that his senseless death will result in reform of the criminal justice system in this country.

However, COVID is still worth talking about. We are awash in data. Numbers, numbers everywhere, but it’s hard to make much sense. Nietzsche infamously declared that God was dead, not in celebration, but in fear. His concern was over what would replace that which for millennia had provided structure and coherence to the world.

Today we know the answer. Science and the data it generates. I fear it may be a poor substitute. Unfortunately, data can be cherry-picked, distorted, messaged and falsified. One need only look at our mass and social media. For example, Fox and CNN present curated versions of what happens each day, each hour. The purveyors of news use data that supports a narrative that their respective consumers are predisposed, even need, to believe. 

Vetted experts tell us what the data means. The consumer of the news product then talks only to other consumers who have watched the same programming. Everybody is confirmed in their biased perspectives. Discordant data is ignored or referenced only in passing so as to preserve the veneer of impartiality.

The citizenry can watch Fox News or CNN or MSNBC for breakfast, lunch and dinner and fall asleep to the noise of worldview reinforcement. We are brainwashing ourselves.

Since I have come to this revelation, I get my data from the excellent Illinois Department of Public Health, Oak Park Public Health, Cook County Public Health and Du Page Public Health, which is where the news media gets it. By eliminating the distorting lens of the media, I get the straight data.

Here are just a few things I have learned that I didn’t get from the media (data is from June 6-7 unless otherwise noted). I present this data without commentary:

5,864 Illinoisans have died. There are a 102 counties in our state; in 39 of them no one died, and in 13 of them, one person died. In Cook County, 3,913 have died. In the six counties of Metro Chicago, 5,238 have died.

Of the 5,864 deaths in Illinois, four were under 20 years old, 20 were in their 20s, 89 were in their 30s, 199 were in their 40s, 482 were in their 50s, 1,029 were in their 60s, 1,422 were in their 70s, and 2,619 were 80 or older.

As of June 4, of a total of 5,795 deaths, 3,053 were in nursing homes. In DuPage County, of the 394 deaths, 321 of them were in nursing homes.

As of June 4, eight different nursing homes had at least 30 deaths in each. If these facilities were counties, they would have had the 12th thru 20th most deaths in the state.

Illinois hospitals have a total of 3,888 ICU beds. COVID patients were using 720 beds. There are 5,871 ventilators. COVID patients were using 438 of them.

As of June 6, 21 Oak Park residents had died of COVID, 15 were living in nursing homes, and 10 were from a single nursing home.

Join the discussion on social media!