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Holiday Data Chaos!

The new case data was all over the place during the holidays, with some states not reporting for days at a time. It’s just now settling down, and we won’t really know where we stand for another few days. Nonetheless, it has been 12 days since my last report, so I wanted to provide an update before next week.

We’ve now administered over 9 million doses of the vaccine in the United States as of today. I continue to believe that we’ll see some striking reductions in active cases at about 80 million vaccines, and that we’ll start to see the effects as early as mid-February. I’ve pinned my 2021 predictions at the bottom of this report.

Here is where we stand with known active cases. We can see a significant decline over the holidays, and a surge after, reminiscent of Thanksgiving. I expect it to follow the same pattern, with declines over the next week.

Below is the national daily death count. The brown line is my projection or peak deaths. This projection is based on 2.75 deaths per 1,000 known active cases with a 21 day lag. This data point has been very stable, but we’ve seen a small decline for the past 6 weeks, which is good. I may have overshot on peak deaths, but not by much.

Individual States

Here is Arizona, a fairly strong decline since the localized peak on December 14, then another surge since the end of the year. This is a typical pattern of many states (as you’ll see below). The ones increasing before Christmas are increasing again, and the states that were falling before Christmas are stable or falling.

SC has seen a strong increase since the beginning of 2021, but now showing early signs of decreasing.

Here is Florida – showing a 2021 spike, and now starting to attenuate. Still quite stable in Miami.

California is still looking better than in December and based on the magnitude of the peak on December 22nd, I expect declines soon.

Georgia is increasing fast, and still at only 0.46% of the population, so I expect further increases here.

Texas data is still messy, so I have no forecasts 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).

Both VA and NC have increased since the end of the year. VA stands at 0.4%, and NC at 0.6%. I expect NC to decline first.

Washington data is worse than Texas. It has been quite erratic. Here is a quote from The COVID Tracking Project providing you with an idea of their data difficulties.

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 rapid growth, with NJ growing more slowly.

Here is Massachusetts. Rapid post-thanksgiving growth, then gradual decline for 3 weeks, and a post-holiday spike. MA is still at a relatively low 0.46%, so I don’t think their troubles are over.

…And here is Michigan, with a dramatic December decline, and a relatively smaller increase in January to date. The high water mark on December 3rd was just a hair over 0.58%, so I think that was the top.

Here is PA with a nice 2 week decline, then a smaller increase in January.

Here is Colorado – with less than ½ the COVID they had in late November.

Here is Illinois, similar to Colorado – dramatic recovery for 6 weeks, and relatively smaller increase in January.

Here is Wisconsin, same pattern.

Here is Alabama, with strong growth in January, and now at 0.61%. This “should be” near the top.

And Tennessee… The peak on December 21st was at 0.91%, so don’t expect further growth.

Here is Ohio – big declines since mid-December, then a smaller climb in January.

Here is Indiana, following our now familiar pattern.

And finally, here is South Dakota, with about one quarter of the COVID they had in November.

So that’s it for today. Until the holiday data settles down, take all this with a grain of salt. We’ll know a great deal more next week.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

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