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Arizona now 10 days past peak

It’s been four days since I reported last. Known active cases nationally continue to grow in the 2% range, with daily deaths showing a slight rise over the past week. Of our 6 watch states, Arizona looks to have peaked on July 6th. CA and TX may have peaked, but we’ll give it another week to be sure. SC is slowing a bit, but Florida and Georgia remain problematic. With 4 out of 6 watch states doing so much better, I’m going to stop reporting on them as a group, as it doesn’t inform us any longer.

Do you remember 2 weeks ago when Arizona was the worst thing happening in the United States? Well, look at this:

If this peak holds, the AZ will have peaked at 0.37% of the population, just a bit above NY. They are experiencing dramatically fewer deaths per capita than NY, thankfully. Here is the total picture as a percent of the population:

Of the states on the left side of the chart, the ones that have peaked or shown recent peaks are AZ, NY, NJ, TX, MA, and CA. The outlier here is Florida, which has set a record for known active cases as a percent of the population (0.38%) and also shows no signs of slowdown yet. I continue to believe that this disease hits a relatively small population ceiling (between ¼ and ½ of one percent of the population), and then declines. If my theory is correct, then we should see a slowdown in Florida shortly.

We 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. We are now seeing a mild upward trend in daily deaths, but small in proportion to the increased case count. (In fact, the latest revision of the IHME model projects that daily deaths do not go above 1,000 again.) I believe this is because:

  • We’re testing people who are less ill as the testing protocol widens, so the survival rate is higher
  • We are getting better at keeping those that are hospitalized alive
  • 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 14)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 831,918 (a new record)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 2,929 (extremely low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 2.05% (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 – I’m modeling about 448,000 known active cases.

Here are the new reported cases nationally – steady growth. We set a record today of just over 71,000 new cases. We also set a record today of about 832,000 tests reported. With over 43 million tests reported, I’m guessing that at least one out of every 10 people in the U.S. has had a COVID test.

Despite the increase in active known cases, we’re seeing only a mild increase 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. I like this pattern – if this peak holds, it will be just a bit higher than NY.

Here is SC, moving a little slower now. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The COVID Tracking Project).

Florida’s growth rate has been hovering around 4%, which is down from about 7% three weeks ago, but still growing uncomfortably fast. I believe that Florida doesn’t have much more growth to go – in a week I’ll remind you I said that, and I’ll look smart, or maybe not.

California has definitely slowed, but sits at only 0.15% of the population, so that worries me a bit. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people.

Georgia continues a steady growth rate, and sits at 0.23% of the population, so could have more growth to come. Here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

I like the news from Texas since I reported last. If Texas is peaking, it’s only at 0.22% of the population, so my confidence that we’ve seen the top here is low. Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting, but not enough to explain this growth.

We’re now seeing NC and VA grow in lockstep. Both are low percentages of the population, so no predictions yet.

Here is the daily death report for NC, with a possible recent upward trend, but it’s hard to tell. NC has an erratic pattern of daily deaths, as you can see, so we need more of a trend to interpret it. This is a good case study, as NC has had active cases increasing almost monotonically for over 3 months, but little change in the daily death count. NC extended Phase 2 until August 7th. I think we’ll actually go to Phase 3 this time.

Washington has been erratic over the past week. Active cases are the smallest per capita of all the states I track, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it keeps growing.

Nothing to say about NY and NJ – the picture says it all. The decline in both states seems to have stopped, and active cases have stabilized at a low level.

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 is showing signs of a slowdown, but the peak was very low, so I won’t be surprised by further growth.

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 on Sunday or Monday, perhaps 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

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