It’s been over a week since I reported last. Known active cases nationally continue to grow in the sub 2% range, with daily deaths showing a slight rise over the past week. Of our 6 watch states, Arizona has been in decline for about a week, and may have peaked. Georgia is slowing, as is Florida (expect for today). South Carolina has been flat for a week, and may be peaking now. Texas and California concern me the most, as they show no signs of cresting yet.
I continue to believe that this disease hits a relatively small population ceiling, and then declines. I’ve seen more and more supporting this. The latest was sent to me today from one of the doctors on this list: https://www.inverse.com/science/coronavirus-could-it-be-burning-out-after-20-of-a-population-is-infected This article speculates that the ceiling is about 20% of the population. This is measured on a cumulative basis, and I think there might be something to it. NY, for example, has seen a bit over 400,000 documented cases, or about 2% of the population. It’s not unreasonable to assume that 10 times as many people have had the disease than the number documented. At the end of April, the random antibody testing study in NY found in excess of 15% of those tested had the disease. Back at that time NY state had recorded about 300,000 cases, or about 1.6% of the population, so aggregate prevalence was about 10x.
Let’s look at where we are today with known active cases as a percent of the population.
We now see Arizona just above the peak in NY, with Arizona possibly past peak, or at the very least dramatically slowed. We also see Florida in that ballpark. Georgia and South Carolina are around the average peak, and are slowing and flat, respectively. I’m obviously using a different metric than in the above article. I’m measuring concurrent known infections (which I derive from modeling — it’s a stat that is not reported anywhere), and I believe the natural ceiling is between ¼ and ½ of 1 percent (0.0025 to 0.005).
We also continue to see deaths growing at a fraction of the case growth. You’ll read a lot about deaths being a lagging indicator, and although true, the propagation of the disease is skewing younger, so the fatalities are not increasing with the case count. Arizona is having a very different experience than NY. Arizona is now at a higher known prevalence than NY at its peak, but NY has had 24,979 deaths, and Arizona 2,237. That’s one death in NY per every 779 people, and one death in Arizona for every 3,263 people. Of course, Arizona will experience more deaths over the next month, while daily deaths are very low in NY, but even anticipating this, Arizona is having a much better experience than NY.
I believe that we will see an increase in daily deaths, but small in proportion to the increased case count. This is because:
- We’re testing people who are less ill as the testing protocol widens, so the survival rate is higher
- The scope of testing is still expanding generally, so the increase in cases is not representative of a like increase in prevalence
- Younger people are a larger percentage of those newly infected, and their mortality rate is close to nil, so very few show up in the fatality stats
- 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 (per the COVID Tracking Project)
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): N/A (no peak yet)
- Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): April 16 (last revision on July 7)
- Total Test Results reported today: 728,781 (extremely high)
- Total Pending tests reported today: 2,639 (extremely low)
- National reported case Growth Rate today: 1.89% (low)
Shane Chalke Interviews
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.
Here is the national picture of active cases – I’m modeling about 411,000 known active cases. 61% of the active cases I’m modeling come from the 6 states on my watch list. Again, this number is high (I don’t know by how much), as many states count positive tests instead of people (I sound like a broken record, but this is important).
Here is the rest of the country without the 6 watch list states – a much better picture. There is growth in many places other than the 6 watch states, but slower.
Here are the new reported cases nationally – steady growth.
Despite the increase in active known cases, we’re seeing the beginnings of a mild rise in daily deaths. I continue to believe that this is primarily explained by demographics. I’ve long been a proponent of protecting those potentially most affected by the disease, and letting others make their own decisions about daily life, as the mortality rate among pre-retirees is so very low. I believe this is exactly what is happening in society right now. Seniors and those with health problems are exhibiting social distancing, quarantine, and other precautionary measures, while the disease spreads among a younger demographic, with a much lower mortality rate.
On to the states.
Arizona is looking far better than last week. If, in fact, that what we’re seeing is the peak, it came in just a bit higher than NY.
Here is SC, more or less flat from a week ago. South Carolina also double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The Covid Tracking Project).
Florida’s growth rate has been measurably slowing, with the exception of the spike today. Florida is at about 0.32% of the population, so if I’m right, it doesn’t have much growth left.
California has no pattern of slowing growth yet, and sits now at just 0.15% of the population, so I won’t be surprised to see it continue to grow. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people.
Georgia is now showing a somewhat slower growth rate. Georgia is now at 0.2% of the population (about the average). Here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project). To make matters more distorted, until May 27th GA reported positive antibody tests as new cases.
Texas is still growing fast. Texas is now at 0.22% of the population, so could have more to run. Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting, but not enough to explain this growth.
We’re seeing some recent growth in NC, and somewhat slower growth in VA. Both NC and VA are at comparable percentages of the population.
Here is the daily death report for NC, continuing a slow downward trend, despite near constant growth in active cases for 3 months. This is quite significant. NC’s Phase 2 expires on Friday. My guess is that they could safely move to Phase 3, but won’t based on the growing case count. I predict 2 more weeks at Phase 2.
Washington has been declining for the better part of a week. Active cases are the smallest per capital of all the states I track.
Nothing to say about NY and NJ – the picture says it all.
Massachusetts looks great. Cases have been stable for some time in the 1,500 range, quite small for the size of the state.
…And here is Michigan. Looking beautiful until June 10th, then beginning a steady. Michigan peaked at a low percentage of population (0.089%), so could peak again if my theory is right.
PA looks just like Michigan. PA also peaked at a low percentage of population, so my comments about MI apply here.
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. Colorado peaked at a very small percentage, so could peak again as well.
So that’s it for today. I’ll report again later this week, or earlier if something interesting happens.
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 you feel necessary.
–Shane Chalke, FSA