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National daily death count declining – All eyes on AZ, CA, TX

Today we had the highest new reported cases we’ve seen since May 1st, about seven weeks ago. Today’s new case count came in at 32,984. These numbers are pushed up almost entirely by 5 states: Arizona, California, Florida, South Carolina, and Texas. 18,299 new cases came from these 5 states alone today – over 55% of all new cases. These are the states to watch. Lately Florida and South Carolina have been slowing, but Arizona, Texas, and California are not.

Deaths, on the other hand, continue their downward trend, with 775 deaths reported today, and less than 300 each on Sunday and Monday. In fact, yesterday’s reported deaths were the lowest we’ve seen since March 25th, quite early in the epidemic. National cases have been on the rise for 2 weeks now, and we haven’t seen any increase in daily death reports. If we don’t see any meaningful increases this week, I’m going to conclude that one or more of the following (and maybe all) is responsible for the increased case counts without increased mortality:

  • We’re testing people who are less ill
  • We’re testing a younger demographic
  • Double counting of cases is increasing, including antigen and antibody tests, as well as PCR tests – we know that AZ, CA, TX, and SC double count cases

To help with some perspective, here is a picture of active cases for the 15 states as a percentage of population. I’ve added the average peak line as a reference. AZ, TX, and CA are the three states I’m most concerned about. Of these, you can see that Arizona is the outlier. As a percentage of population, it’s still below the peaks of NJ and NY, but it’s shaping up to be a similar story, at least with active case count. Interestingly, both new hospitalizations and daily deaths continue to drop in Arizona, so there is where it parts company with the northeast states. https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/covid-19/dashboards/index.php

I’ll report again on Friday…

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 June 15)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 505,573 (extremely high)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 1,891 (extremely low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 1.44% (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

Here is the national picture of active cases – It’s been rising now for 2 weeks, driven almost entirely by AZ, CA, FL, SC, and TX. I’m modeling about 203,000 known active cases. Over half of the active cases I’m modeling come from the 5 problem states. Again, this number is high (I don’t know by how much), as many states routinely double count cases.

Here is the same picture showing only the 5 hot spot states. This looks much worse. I’m seeing a slowing in FL and SC, so this is now a story about AZ, CA, and TX.

And finally, here is the rest of the country without the 5 focus states. A much better picture.

Here are the new reported cases nationally. Increasing for a week now – the majority of new cases are in 5 states.

Here are the daily death reports. Deaths are running a small fraction of what the experts predicted for June. This week will be telling, as the deaths lag cases by about 2 weeks (or at least have until now). I’m not expecting an increase though, as new hospitalizations in Arizona (one of the most problematic states) are in decline.

On to the states. NC has been roughly level for 9 days now – this is a significant improvement from the growth rate in the previous 2 weeks. It looks like it may be peaking a bit below the average as a percent of the population, and at a lower rate per capita than Virginia. NC is expected to enter Phase 3 on June 28th – I don’t know if this will happen, but based on this data I think it could.

Not only is Arizona increasing at an elevated growth rate, it is also well above the average peak as a percent of the population. AZ is now at currently at 0.26% of the population, almost in NJ territory. Arizona’s data is exaggerated, since they count specimens tested rather than people, and it’s not uncommon to get multiple tests if you’re sick – each time you’re tested you’d show up as a new case. Even worse, Arizona counts positive antibody tests as new cases. We’ll see where this levels off.

South Carolina is now above the average peak (the blue line), but has slowed down somewhat in the past few days. South Carolina also double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case. Worse still, until June 11th, SC counted positive antibody tests as new cases.

Washington reached a new peak, but still at a low level as a percentage of population – 0.035%. I’d add them to the “problem” list, but the growth rate is low and the numbers are small – a couple of hundred cases a day – so they hardly impact the national numbers.

The Florida growth rate has been slowing for the past 4 days – you can see it in the slight inflection on the curve.

Both NY and NJ continue to be great recovery stories. I’ll keep reporting on these two states in case something happens out of pattern. It’s been a very long time since anything surprising has happened here, though.

The growth rate in California has increased since my last report. California is one of the states that double counts cases, so that could explain some of it. California is still below the average peak as a percentage of the population (shown on the blue line).

At the beginning of June, MA reported nearly 4,000 historical but newly discovered cases, which skewed the data. Now that we’re 2 weeks past this event, I’m now modeling based on the data as reported. That’s what that bump in cases in early June is all about on the graph. It’s not real. If something like this happens again, I may have to do the work of adjusting for it, but for now, I’m letting it flow through. MA is another state that double counts cases by reporting each positive test as its own case.

Georgia had a spike in new cases yesterday, but lower today. Georgia has now exceeded its previous peak, but is still below the average — if this continues I’ll add it to the hot spot list, but we’ll need more than just 2 days of data. Here again, the numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case. To make matters more distorted, until May 27th GA reported positive antibody tests as new cases.

…And here is Michigan. Drifting upward for 12 days now. Michigan still has the second lowest concentration of COVID of the 15 states I model, so it’s not on my radar yet. They’ve also had a lot of data anomalies, so I look at this graph with a grain of salt.

PA has been drifting up for 5 days. They are also in the bottom half of my list – see above.

Texas shows no signs of slowing down. As they cross the average peak (the blue line) I would expect it to. Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting.

And finally, here is Colorado. Colorado is one of the states that has had aberrations in their data. I still report it, but I’ve shied away from any conclusions in this state due to the data irregularities. Very small numbers here.

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 feel necessary.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

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