Friday, March 27, 2020

Coronavirus dashboard for March 27: (unsurprisingly) voluntary distancing appears to be failing

 - by New Deal democrat

Here is the update through yesterday (March 26) 

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. 

As of now, just over 50% of the population is under total or business lockdown, and the rate of increase in new infections decelerated significantly - but is still growing at near 25%/day. The amount of testing continues to increase, but still is falling far short of what is necessary for a successful regimen.

Number and rate of increase of Reported Infections (from Johns Hopkins via
  • Number: up +16,815 to 86,012 (vs. +16,815 on March 26)
  • ***Rate of increase: day/day: 24% (vs. 34.6% baseline and vs. 25% on March 26)
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. At the same time, it remains an exponential growth rate.
Note: Ben Engebreth, whose Department of Numbers used to track house prices back in the housing bubble days, has started tracking coronvirus infection and testing numbers, with graphs. You can find it here.

Number and rate of increase of testing (from COVID Tracking Project)
  • Number: 97,816, up +23,734 vs. 74,082 on March 25 day/day
  • Rate: increase of 32% vs. number of tests previous day
Comparison of rates of increase in documented infections vs. testing  
  • Infections +24% vs. Tests +32% day/day
Result: The rate of testing is improving but remains far, far below what is needed, which is probably now at least 150,000/day.

Ratio of tests to positives for infection (from COVID Tracking Project)
  • Number: 97,816 new tests vs. 16,807 new diagnosed infections 
  • ***Ratio: 5.8:1 
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 5.8:1 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): 23 (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IL, IN, LA, MN, NH, NM, MI, MT, 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): 15 (AL, FL*, GA*, IA, MO, MS,  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
**some local areas with partial restrictions
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: 141.1 million, 42.5%
  • ***Business lockdown: 39.2 million, 11.8%
  • Partial restrictions on business (bars, restaurants): 114.9 million, 34.6% 
  • 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 cases 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 - but it is only lowering the exponential rate of growth to about 25% so far - far short of what is necessary.  The rate of testing, while improving, remains abysmally too low compared with the spread of the virus.
There is NO HOPE that the federal government under Trump will take necessary steps. Therefore those States which have gone to lockdowns need to cooperate regionally in quarantining incoming visitors at airports, train stations and at highway checkpoints.