Cases continue to increase at quite a pace, but not evenly distributed across the U.S. As I mentioned in my last report, the first wave in April was centered in the Northeast, while the second wave in July was all about the sunbelt. This third wave is centered in the Midwest, but more dispersed than wave 1 and 2. Of the states I’m tracking, I’d say that WA, NY, NJ, CA, MA, MI, TX, PA, CO, IL, WI, OH, TN, and IN are increasing rapidly. VA, FL, AZ, are increasing at a slower pace, and NC, SC, GA, and AL have been relatively flat. Here is what the new daily reported case count looks like. Over the past week, new cases are a good 50% over what they were during wave 2.
Let’s look at the known active case curve. We’re now at about 789,000 active cases, well over the wave 2 peak of 468,000. If Wave 3 behaves like 1 and 2, I suspect it will peak soon, and then begin the march downward.
Part of the rise in daily cases is driven by the rise in asymptomatic testing. We’re now in the 1.4 million per day range. band. When wave 3 began, we were testing about 800,000 per day. So testing has increased 75% since that time, but new cases have tripled. I believe that increased testing explains less than 40% of the increase in cases.
As predicted, we’re seeing an increase in daily deaths, but as with wave 2, a very small increase in daily deaths in comparison to the increase in active cases.
Here is a closer look at daily deaths over the past 5 weeks. You can see the upward trend, but it’s quite mild in comparison to the very rapid increase in cases.
A more effective measure of mortality is the daily deaths per active case. We’re seeing a steady fall in death rate since mid-September. I believe this is caused partly by improved medical results, but primarily by demographics. Those infected are skewing younger, and the young have a negligible effect on mortality. I do expect an increase in this metric as well, primarily because deaths lag cases by 2-3 weeks. So we’ll see deaths continue to rise even when cases begin falling again which pushes this metric up. We don’t see it yet, however, which is a small silver lining.
Shane Chalke Interviews
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Here is Arizona. They changed their reporting protocol on September 17 to add the results of antigen testing. Part of the upward drift since then is a result of this definitional change. Arizona continues with a fraction of the COVID they had in July.
SC has been relatively flat for over 2 months, with a slow drift upwards over the past 2 weeks. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The Covid Tracking Project).
Here is Florida – down dramatically from the top, and drifting upwards for over a month now. I find it interesting that Miami is relatively flat – they were a big driver of Florida results during wave 2.
California active cases have doubled over the past 3 weeks, although the numbers are still small for a state with 40 million people. CA peaked at a low 0.17% of the population, so we won’t be surprised if this continues to increase. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people, so there is some overcounting here.
Georgia is still doing pretty well in comparison to most other states. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).
In my last report I said that “Texas is rising again, and peaked at 0.235% of the population (a little low), so it wouldn’t surprise me if we some more growth here.” Well, it’s happening now. Texas has more than doubled their known active cases in less than a month. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).
Now this is interesting. NC has flattened out over the past week (good news), while VA continues to grow. That bump in NC numbers at the end of September is NC reporting an additional 4,563 “probable” cases on September 25th.
Here is the daily death report for NC, reporting a record for daily deaths on November 3rd, but otherwise flat for over 3 months now.
Washington has had so many reporting protocol changes it’s difficult to interpret this graph, but even through all the data fog I’d say it’s increasing rapidly. Still at a small 0.116% of the population, so I think there is more to come.
Here are NY and NJ – Significant percentage increases in both NY and NJ. NY is well under their April numbers, but NJ is now at about 60% of their peak.
Here is Massachusetts. Growing rapidly, and now at about 75% of the April peak.
…And here is Michigan, clearly growing fast. They sit now at 0.339% of the population, so I expect a turnaround here soon.
PA is also growing, as expected. They are still at only .174% of the population, so I believe there is more to come.
Here is Colorado, at a new peak. A little slowing in the past few days, and they are now at 0.36% of the population, so I think this will turn soon as well.
Here is our first look at Illinois. The very definition of the word “spike”. Now at 0.53% of the population, I think they’re close to the ceiling.
Here is Wisconsin. They now hold the record for population peak. No sign of slowdown yet, but I believe this state will hit the ceiling very soon.
Here is Alabama. Fairly flat until the end of October, then a spike (I don’t know why yet), and then fairly flat.
And Tennessee… growing fast, and now at 0.34% of the population. Should be near the top soon.
Ohio is also growing fast, and sits at 0.28% of the population, so I’m sadly expecting a bit more growth here.
And finally, here is Indiana. They stand at 0.435% of the population. I expect a slowing here soon.
So that’s it for today. I’ll report again in a week or so (longer if absolutely nothing changes, shorter if we see developments).
–Shane Chalke, FSA