(It turns out the list of Senators I used was out of date, so here is an updated version.)
So I got to wondering just how many Senators, that body of old mostly men, could die of COVID-19.
So, I simulated a plague on the Senate. The ages of Senators are public information. I assumed a 50% infection rate and use the Italian death-rate-by-age statistics and for each Senator I calculated a probability of death. Since this is simulation, I could plague the Senate over and over. In each plague, for each Senator, I took the probability of death, a number between zero and one. I then had my computer pick a random number between zero and one. If it was below the probability of death, I said that that Senator had died. I did this for each Senator, then I did it over and over for each plague. I could then count how many Senators died in each plague, and this chart summarizes the result: most likely between one and three. The odds of none dying were quite low – 7% – and the odds of more dying were 23%.
Critique: my editor argues that the infection rate would be higher. The age brackets I had were ten years wide, assigning the same probably of death to a 70-year-old as to a 79-year-old. But the data we have is not precise and this is probably as good an estimate as any.
How will the Senate react if we see those deaths? How will Donald Trump and Mike Pence react?