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CDC finally confirms my mortality estimates from April…

Back in April I published my mortality estimates for COVID. You can read details at the bottom of this report, but I estimated the overall mortality to be:

Overall: 0.53%

Ages 0 – 59: 0.09%

Ages 60+: 2.5%

I took a lot of heat for this, as it was widely reported that the “case fatality rate” was about 6%, and my numbers are a tiny fraction of that.

Well, low and behold, last week the CDC published new “Guidelines for Researchers”, where they provided their current best estimates for mortality. Their published best estimates are:

Overall: 0.40%

Ages 0 – 49: 0.05%

Ages 50 – 64: 0.2%

Ages 65+: 1.3%

Well, their overall mortality doesn’t look a lot different from mine back in April. I feel vindicated. The good news here is that the CDC numbers represent the fatality rate for symptomatic patients. They estimate that 35% of patients are asymptomatic, so the overall mortality rate from the CDC accounting for all infections would be about 0.3%. This is a long way from the current wisdom in April that spawned a national panic!

The new CDC Guidelines for Researchers can be found here (not for the faint of heart): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html If you don’t have the stomach for that, you can read about it in the news from CNN here: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/22/health/cdc-coronavirus-estimates-symptoms-deaths/index.html Of course, the CNN headline says nothing about mortality – you have to read the article. For more inciteful reporting, you can read about this in Reason Magazine here: https://reason.com/2020/05/24/the-cdcs-new-best-estimate-implies-a-covid-19-infection-fatality-rate-below-0-3/?utm_medium=email

Overall, this is fantastic news, as this puts COVID at least on the same playing field as the seasonal flu.

Now that there are a number of random testing studies available, I’m going to refine my mortality estimates soon.

As always, feel free to send me your questions about my assumptions, methodology, or modeling in general.

  • Likely date of active case peak (Chalke modeling): April 10
  • Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): April 16 (last revision on May 29)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 417,156 (very high)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 4,054 (very low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 1.09% (very low)

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Daily Analysis

Where do I even begin to describe how inflated the data has become? I noticed a large increase in active cases nationally today, and it didn’t seem right, so I dug in. There are mysteries in several states, but the worst was Massachusetts. Massachusetts has been reported between 600 and 700 new cases a day lately, and today they reported 4,198 new cases. I knew this couldn’t be accurate, and in fact, it isn’t. Here is this published today on the Massachusetts department of health website:

As of June 1st, the Department of Public Health began reporting both confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and deaths. This change is in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control to include “probable” COVID-19 cases and deaths in data collection and reporting efforts. This change will increase the number of cases and deaths reported in Massachusetts. Starting June 1st, the newly reported totals are a result of a retrospective review of probable cases and deaths dating back to March 1, 2020.

Massachusetts has done this before, and rolled historical data into the current numbers. To make matters worse, Massachusetts says they now report positive results from antibody tests in their current numbers. Antibody tests in Massachusetts represent about 15% of total tests, but they don’t report positive rates for antibody vs. RNA tests. In the past, I’ve just let this roll through the data, but this time I backed out the historical cases from the current numbers. I have no idea now many other states are doing this, but it improperly exaggerates the current state of COVID. I’ll keep looking for this, but the reporting is inconsistent and incomplete, so I can only do so much. We’ve seen Colorado use this same methodology, so they may also be exaggerating the current numbers.

Here is the national picture of active cases – continued, slow decline. I suspect it’s declining faster than this graph suggests, for a number of reasons I’ve discussed from time to time.

Here are the new reported cases nationally. All still tracking in the right direction.

Here are the daily reported tests. We are solidly in the 400K+ range now. The U.S. has now processed just under 18 million tests.

Here are the daily death reports. Daily deaths are falling steadily. I don’t know how many of these new deaths are weeks or months old – I’ll keep trying to find out.

On to the states. Big change in Virginia, but they report inconsistently so we’ll know more after a few days.

No surprises with Washington – drifting upward lately. The numbers are small, and Washington has had several previous episodes of increases. Washington is another state with a history of data anomalies.

Florida has been more or less flat for 2 weeks now. The hot spot in Florida continues to be Miami. Other than in SE Florida, COVID presence is small.

Both NY and NJ are in the end game, with a small percentage of COVID compared to their peaks. I think they will continue to decline slowly from this point.

California continues to be problematic. CA is now similar to NY on a per capita basis. IHME now projects that the California daily death count doesn’t peak until June 27th, so California could be rising for another week or two.

Massachusetts continues to do well, with a remarkably rapid recovery. I adjusted MA numbers to remove historical cases from today’s new cases. Otherwise, you’d see a dramatic and unexplainable increase.

Georgia’s decline is painfully slow – enough said.

Michigan has been flat for a few days, but remarkably, down 67% from the peak on April 6th.

Continued, almost straight line, decline in Pennsylvania. Very pretty graph (to a math nerd).

Texas has been rising for the past 5 days, but Texas has a small COVID presence per capita.

And finally, here is Colorado. Colorado is one of the states that has had aberrations in their data. It’s showing about flat for 2 weeks, but I’ve shied away from any conclusions in this state due to the data irregularities.

So that’s it for today. The numbers are very small as a percentage of the population. Unless you’re in a high density area, your chances of contracting COVID are very small. However, even though the probability is very small, that doesn’t help if you’re the one catching it. Everyone please continue to be as cautious as circumstances dictate.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

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