Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Coronavirus dashboard for March 25: decisive moves by States toward lockdowns, first signs of benefits of “social distancing”

 - by New Deal democrat

Here is the update through yesterday (March 24) 

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. 

Yesterday we crossed two out of three of those thresholds - just over 50% of the population is under lockdown or near lockdown, and the rate of increase in new infections decelerated substantially. The amount of testing continues to fall are short of what is necessary.

Number and rate of increase of Reported Infections (from Johns Hopkins via
  • Number: up +8,775 to 55,225 (vs. +11,126 on March 24)
  • ***Rate of increase: day/day: 19% (vs. 34.6% baseline and vs. 32% on March 23)
I am using Jim Bianco’s excellent exponential projection of 34.5% growth from March 10 as my baseline. It appears that “social distancing” strategies as well as State-mandated partial and total lockdowns may have begun to put a dent in this, as yesterday’s +19% was by far the lowest rate of increase in the past two weeks.
Number and rate of increase of testing (from COVID Tracking Project)
  • Number: 65,840, down -735 vs. March 24 day/day
  • Rate: decrease of -1% vs. number of tests previous day
Comparison of rates of increase in documented infections vs. testing  
  • Infections +19% vs. Tests -1% day/day
Result: After appearing to improve, the rate of testing is failing abysmally again.

Ratio of tests to positives for infection (from COVID Tracking Project)
  • Number: 65,105 new tests vs. 9,806 new diagnosed infections 
  • ***Ratio: 6.6:1 
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 6.6:1 is poor. We remain way behind in the number of tests we are administering.
Number of States (+DC and Puerto Rico) in total lockdown, business lockdown, and partial restrictions
  • Total lockdown (personal + business): 18 (CA, CT, DE, HI, IL, IN, LA, NM, MI, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PR, VT, WA, WI, WV)
  • Business lockdown: 7 (DC, KY, MA, MD, ME, NV, PA)
  • Partial restrictions on business: 18 (AK, AL, CO, FL, GA, IA, MN, MO, MS, NH, NC, ND, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA) 
  • School closure only: 7 (AK, AZ, AR, KS, OK, SD, WY)  
  • No mandatory restrictions: 2 (ID, NE) 
All of the remaining States with no restrictions or only school closures are rural.
Number and percent of US population in total lockdown, business lockdown, and partial restrictions
  • ***Total lockdown: 138.6 million, 41.8%
  • ***Business lockdown: 39.2 million, 11.8%
  • Partial restrictions on business (bars, restaurants): 133.3 million, 40.2% 
  • School closure only: 17.0 million, 5.1%
  • No mandatory restrictions: 3.7 million, 1.1%
In the past 72 hours, there has been a decisive move towards business and total lockdowns, as 17 States join the list (local jurisdictions in some others, including Nashville, Dallas, Houston, and Austin do have lockdowns), and 12 States have moved up from the least restricted. 
Today, for the first time, almost half the population is on total lockdown. That is the percentage, AT MINIMUM, I think we need to have a chance of following China’s successful strategy for beating back the pandemic.
Bottom line: as of March 24, there has been a decisive move at State levels to lockdowns or at least further restrictions. Further, the first benefits of “social distancing” may be beginning to show up. But it is still not enough. More States need to follow suit with lockdowns, and those States which have gone to lockdowns need to cooperate regionally in quarantining incoming visitors at airports, train stations and on the highways. Testing remains abysmal, and needs to double at very least.