Thursday, March 26, 2020

Coronavirus dashboard for March 26: southern “red” States resist effective measures

 - by New Deal democrat

Here is the update through yesterday (March 25) 

In order to succeed in containing the pandemic, I believe that the US needs at least 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 +13,972 to 69,197 (vs. +11,705 on March 25)
  • ***Rate of increase: day/day: 25% (vs. 34.6% baseline and vs. 19% on March 24)
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 +25% and Tuesday’s+19% have been 2 of the 3 lowest rates of increase in the past two+ weeks.
Number and rate of increase of testing and deaths(from COVID Tracking Project)
  • Number: 74,082, down  vs. 65,840 on March 25 day/day
  • Rate: increase of 13% vs. number of tests previous day
  • Deaths: 887 total, up +212, or +31% day/day
Comparison of rates of increase in documented infections vs. testing  
  • Infections +25% vs. Tests +13% day/day
Result: The rate of testing is failing to improve and is far, far below what is needed, which is probably now at least 150,000/day.
Deaths lag infections by about 2 weeks, and are still growing at a far higher exponential rate for now.

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): 21 (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IL, IN, LA, MN, 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 (restaurants and bars): 17 (AL, FL*, GA*, IA, MO, MS, MT, NH, NC*, ND, RI, SC*, TN*, TX*, UT*, VA, WY) 
  • School closure only: 6 (AK, AZ, AR, KS, OK, SD)  
  • No mandatory restrictions: 1 (NE*) 
*some local areas are under lockdowns
With the exception of Arizona, 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, 47.3%
  • ***Business lockdown: 39.2 million, 11.8%
  • Partial restrictions on business (bars, restaurants): 117.4 million, 35.4% 
  • School closure only: 16.4 million, 4.9%
  • No mandatory restrictions: 1.9 million, 0.6%
Earlier this week, there was a decisive move towards more restrictive measures across the board. This has all but ground to a halt across the southern “red” States. Continued exponential growth in those States will teach a brutal lesson.
As of yesterday, including metro areas in some States, over half of the total US population is under 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. The deceleration of the rate of increase in new cases may be the first signs that “social distancing” is bearing some fruit. The rate of testing, however, remains abysmally too low compared with the spread of the virus.
There is NO HOPE that the federal government under Trump will take necessary measures. Therefore those States which have gone to lockdowns need to cooperate regionally in quarantining incoming visitors at airports, train stations and at highway checkpoints.