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Peak deaths at 4100 per Day

The surge in cases after the Thanksgiving holiday is behind us in most places now. Most of the states I track are flat or in decline — the ones increasing are NY, CA, FL, SC, GA, and AL. States that flat are WA, NC, MA, TX, AZ, and TN. States that are in decline are NJ, VA, MI, PA, CO, IL, WI, OH, SD, and IN. The data for both WA and TX are a complete mess, so caveats there (more below).

I model that known active cases are now about 1.49 million, or 0.45% of the population. California is the big story lately. In the past 7 days, 1 out of every 5 new cases was from CA. California known active cases sit at 0.70% of the population, so I do expect it to level off any time now.

Below is the active case graph, where you can see the slowdown beginning on December 9th. I expect a continued slowing until early January when we observe the holiday fallout. I have no evidence for this, but do believe the Christmas surge will be less than Thanksgiving, as a driver of Thanksgiving results was the return home of college students – however, nearly all of them stayed home after Thanksgiving, so we won’t repeat this event. We’ll see.

Here is the national daily death count. Increasing as expected with wave 3. The brown line is my projection of daily deaths. My model is tracking pretty well with actual data. I’m expecting daily deaths to peak on January 7th at about 4,100 deaths per day. The IHME model again increased their projection with their December 17th revision, and is now more in line with mine – they are projecting peak daily deaths on January 6th at 3,778 deaths per day. That’s very close.

Here are the daily deaths per 1,000 active cases with the 21 day lag. We’re hoping to see this decline, but so far it’s still quite stable, which gives me confidence in my daily death projections.

Individual States

Here is Arizona, a fairly sharp drop in the past 5 days. That peak on Dec 14th is over 0.7% of the population, so it’s about time.

SC has more than doubled since the beginning of December. It’s now at 0.42% of the population, so could still have more to go.

Here is Florida – increasing steadily since the beginning of October, but not yet at the July peak levels. Miami is growing more slowly than the rest of the state, but I’d estimate that about 50% of the population in Miami has had COVID (9.8% confirmed rate multiplied by a prevalence factor of 5), so heard immunity is very close.

California has experienced a very fast growth rate since the beginning of the month. They are now at 0.70% of the population, so I do expect a reversal here at any time.

Georgia had quite a post-holiday surge, but is still only at 0.31% of the population, so we could yet see more growth.

Texas data is a mess, so I can’t reliably interpret anything here. Texas added over 100,000 cases on a single day (Dec 11), which comprised new “probable” cases going back in history. They provided a new time series going back to November 1st only, so they show a huge spike on November 1st (completely unrealistic). As a result, I have no idea what is going on here. All I want for Christmas is a little data discipline.

Both VA and NC have not fared well post-holiday, but look much better over the past week.

Washington data is worse than Texas. Here is commentary from the COVID Tracking Project – a modeler’s nightmare:

On December 18th, Washington revised down their total test numbers from 3,432,892 to 2,765,404. This might relate to the current note on the dashboard, stating: “Today’s total case counts may include up to 1,000 duplicates. Negative test results data from November 21, 2020, through today are incomplete, as are positive test results from December 16, 2020, thus testing and case numbers should be interpreted with caution. The Epidemiologic Curves tab is the most accurate representation of COVID activity and is updated daily as new cases are identified and duplicates are resolved.” We are continuing to report the total tests figure from Washington’s dashboard and will continue to investigate and adjust this figure if necessary.

On December 16, 2020, Washington added all Probable cases reported since June 2020 to their data for December 16, 2020.

On December 11, 2020, Washington Deaths decreased from 3016 to 2850 with no explanation.

On December 5, 2020, Washington announced that up to 90 of the deaths reported “yesterday” were incorrectly classified and were not due to COVID-19.

Here are NY and NJ – NY continues growth, although slower than early December, while NJ is now in decline for 9 days.

Here is Massachusetts. Rapid post-thanksgiving growth, then flat for the past 10 days.

…And here is Michigan, with a rapid December decline. The high water mark was just a hair over 0.58%, so I think that was the top.

PA has seen rapid post-holiday growth, but slower and flatter for the past 11 days.

Here is Colorado – impressive decline over the past month.

Here is Illinois, similar to Colorado — down significantly over the past 5 weeks.

Here is Wisconsin, same pattern.

Here is Alabama, rapid post-holiday growth, then slowing just a bit over the past 2 weeks.

And Tennessee… Rapid decline over a couple of days. We’ll see if this continues.

Here is Ohio – significant post-holiday bump, then right back down again.

Here is Indiana, up after Thanksgiving, and then back down.

And finally, here is South Dakota, down over 60% from the peak.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

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