How Bad Is It?

The last time I wrote about Covid19, Jun 24, we were 5 weeks into a combination of planned reopenings, unplanned race riots and things like masking for show only. To be fair, Nancy Pelosi had been social masking months earlier.

At that time, infections were climbing, but deaths were flat or declining, down by 4X from the peak in April. I speculated that the next few weeks would tell us a lot about the actual effectiveness of mitigations. What I hoped was that the virus would stall out with about 25% infected, but I was prepared to see a wave of deaths following the rise in infections.

So what actually happened?

Looking at the news, things couldn’t be much worse:

“Florida Sets Grim Death Toll Record”

“The US Leads the World – By a Large Margin – In The Number of Covid-18 Deaths and Cases”

“Orange County See Highest Two-Week Coronavirus Death Count”

And so on.

Most worryingly, infections were growing geometrically in the dangerously backward Trump places due to reopening too soon. Fortunately, enlightened and loved progressive leaders like Andrew Cuomo, with a proven track record of success, were willing to offer advice to the ignorant leaders of places like Florida.

Just how bad is it? Let’s look at the numbers:

According to the WHO, the record for daily deaths was set on Friday May 1, at 2909. Since then, deaths have falling, hitting a low in early July at 550, and slowing increasing since then to about 1000. Recently, the rate of growth has slowed.

Infection rates (“cases”) have outpaced the deaths quite dramatically. On the day of peak deaths (May 1), new infections were 30,000. New cases/day stayed flat for 6 weeks, and then started climbing. On Jul 26, it was 62,000. Some of this is explained by increased testing. On May 1st we were running about 20,000 tests/day, and now, about 60,000 test/day. But positive rates also climbed, especially in the states populated by unenlightened people, according to the New York Times.

We got better at managing the disease, resulting in some better outcomes.

The big trend is that for some reason, the disease became less-lethal in the populations it was infecting. Dramatically so. This make intuitive sense if you note the highly selective lethality of the virus.

Somewhat curiously, the rate of growth of new infections was slower in the places that had suffered more in the first wave, than those that seemed to escape. If you live in a place where the infection rate has remained low – for whatever reason – you might want to hold off the press releases for a bit.

So what about that enlightened blue state / backward red state story?

The US has had 141,000 deaths to date. 49,000, or 35% of them have been in New York + New Jersey (population 17,000,000). 12,000 or 8% have been in Texas + Florida (population 50,500,000).

Increasingly, it appears:

Social distancing slows, but does not stop infections.

The virus will infect the general population, eventually.

There is a huge difference in lethality between the vulnerable, and the broader population. Far greater than historical infections.

For a majority of people, it is less lethal than influenza.



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