Monday, March 23, 2020

Coronavirus dashboard for March 23

 - by New Deal democrat

Here is the update through yesterday (March 22) 

In order to succeed in containing the pandemic, I believe that the US needs 2 weeks of China (nearly complete lockdown) followed by at least a month of South Korea (very aggressive and widespread testing). At minimum, that means at least 50% of the US population under lockdown and a ratio of 15:1 in tests to results showing infection. The recent exponential growth of about 35% per day must be stopped. Those three most important metrics are starred (***) below. 

Number and rate of increase of Reported Infections (from Johns Hopkins via
  • Number: up +8,477 to 35,224 (vs. +7,123 on March 22)
  • ***Rate of increase: day/day: 32% (vs. 34.6% baseline and vs. 36% on March 21)
I am using Jim Bianco’s excellent exponential projection of 34.5% growth from March 10 as my baseline. Hopefully “social distancing” strategies as well as State-mandated partial and total lockdowns will begin to put a dent in this by the end of this week. 
Number and rate of increase of testing (from COVID Tracking Project)
  • Number: 45,627, up +1,441 vs. March 22 day/day
  • Rate: increase of 3% vs. number of tests previous day
Comparison of rates of increase in documented infections vs. testing  
  • Infections +32% vs. Tests +3% day/day
Result: Infections continue to increase a faster rate than tests: i.e., we are falling further behind in testing.

Ratio of tests to positives for infection (from COVID Tracking Project)
  • Number: 45,627 new tests vs. 8,685 new diagnosed infections 
  • ***Ratio: 5.3:1 
In South Korea, where aggressive testing has led to a near-total disappearance of new cases, the inflection point where the number of new daily cases plateaued was reached when the ratio of tests to new cases found reached 15:1. Any ratio less than that suggests that not enough testing is being done. Yesterday’s ratio of 5.3:1 is poor. We are way behind in the number of tests we are administering, and now that NYC and LA have cut back on testing to conserve resources, we are flying even more blind.
Number of States (+DC and Puerto Rico) in total lockdown, business lockdown, and partial restrictions
  • Total lockdown (personal + business): 9 (CA, CT, DE, IL, LA, NJ, NY, OH, PR)
  • Business lockdown: 3 (MD, NV, PA)
  • Partial restrictions on business: 24 (CO, DC, DE, FL, HI, IN, IA, KY, ME, MA, MC, MN, NH, NC, OR, RI, SC, VT, WA, WV, WI) 
  • School closure only: 16 (AK, AL, AZ, AR, GA, KS, MI, SO, NM, ND, OK,SD, TN, UT, VA, WY)  
  • No mandatory restrictions:4  (ID, MI, NE, TX) 
Almost all of the States with no restrictions or only school closures are “red” States, and mainly rural with the notable exceptions of Texas, Florida, and Tennessee. These States will learn the hard way about the meaning of “exponential growth.” Most of the jurisdictions with total or nearly total lockdowns are heavily populated.
Number and percent of US population in total lockdown, business lockdown, and partial restrictions
  • ***Total lockdown: 95.8 million, 28.9%
  • ***Business lockdown: 21.9 million, 6.6%
  • Partial restrictions on business (bars, restaurants): 105.7 million, 31.9% 
  • School closure only: 60.8 million, 17.9%
  • No mandatory restrictions: 38.8 million, 11.7%
As the above totals show, most States are still taking half-measures. Only a little more than 1/4 of the country is on total lockdown, and even in those States I am not sure how inbound travel by air, ship, train, or vehicle is being controlled.  That almost 100 million people, equaling 30% of the entire US population, is proceeding with virtually no real restrictions, is staggering.
Bottom line: as of March 22, the news is “less bad” as three more States went to total lockdown and one to business lockdown, but the pandemic is nowhere near being brought under control.