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Only Georgia remains on the watch list

It’s been three days since I reported last. Known active cases nationally are showing signs of slowing, today’s growth rate the slowest in two weeks (1.7%). A lot of this is the turnaround of our 6 watch states, which are looking dramatically better. Arizona peaked on April 6th, now 13 days ago. Texas, South Carolina, and Florida have shown recent peaks, which may or may not hold up, but still a far cry from rapid growth. California is gradually slowing down, and the only state on this list without a reversal of fortune is Georgia, which shows no signs of slowdown yet.

Here is the peak active case count to date for the states I monitor:

ALL of the 6 states on the left side the chart (FL, AZ, NY, NJ, SC, TX) have either peaked or slowed. ALL of the states on the right side of the chart are growing (CO, WA, MI, PA, VA). This supports my theory that the disease reaches a population ceiling with respect to known active cases and then declines. I think this ceiling is between 0.25 and 0.5 percent of the population. (Make sure to read about Florida below for a comparison of Miami to the rest of the state.)

Repeat from last Thursday——-

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): July 24
  • Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): April 16 (last revision on July 14)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 768,823 (very high)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 3,052 (extremely low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 1.73% (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 464,000 known active cases. You can see the very beginning of a national slowdown here, driven by improvements in our 6 watch states.

Here are the new reported cases nationally – steady growth. The positivity rate is starting to fall again, now down into the 8% range. With nearly 46 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 continues to decline, having peaked 13 days ago. Arizona was at my hypothesized population ceiling, so I think this trend will continue. Arizona dominated the news 2 weeks ago – why isn’t this news?

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). Nonetheless, it’s nice to see it start leveling off.

A few days ago I said “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.” I do think it’s happening now. In fact, I’ve been puzzled by Miami. Reported cumulative cases are now at 1 out of every 34 people, so I couldn’t figure out how it could still be growing. So I put the Miami numbers through my model, and… guess what – it’s not growing (or barely growing, depending on your timeframe)! I do think that Miami has hit the population ceiling for active cases, and is the leading indicator for Florida – I believe it will improve from here.

California has definitely slowed, but sits at only 0.16% of the population, so that worries me a bit. California may not be turning for a bit yet. 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 0.23% 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.

We’ve been seeing NC and VA move in parallel for a while now. Both are low percentages of the population, so no predictions yet.

Here is the daily death report for NC, with no discernable upward trend yet. This is a good case study, as NC has had active cases increasing 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 if this pattern persists.

Washington has been erratic over the past week. Active cases are at just 0.87% of the population, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it keeps growing.

Nothing to say about NY and NJ – the picture says it all. Significant decline in NJ today, but it’s hard to see on this graph, as the residual numbers are so small.

Massachusetts has exhibited a slight upward drift for a week now. We need to watch this, but the numbers are small for the population of the state.

…And here is Michigan. Looking beautiful until June 10th, then beginning a steady upward drift. Michigan peaked at a low percentage of population (0.089%), so may continue to grow if my theory is correct.

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. Here we see some signs of a slowdown.

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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