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COVID Deaths Falling Rapidly

This will be my final report with the various state details, as the COVID Tracking Project (my most reliable data source) closed shop yesterday. I’ll continue national level reporting, and maybe continue to track North Carolina (my home state), and keep an eye on any states not keeping with the national trend.

As of yesterday, over 92 million vaccines have been administered, and over 60 million have received at least the first dose. That’s about 24% of the adult U.S. population. By my calculations, we need between 80 and 100 million to reach herd immunity (see my discussion from February 1st below). The rate of vaccination has significantly increased lately, and I’m now sure we’ll get there by the end of March.

The daily death rate continues to fall rapidly, even though various states are releasing new death data from deaths occurring in last December and January. This muddies things a bit, so the actual contemporaneous death counts are actually lower than the data I’m using. Here is a report from Virginia that illustrates this: Virginia has reported nearly 1,600 COVID deaths in past 10 days. Most are from December and January. | Richmond Local News | richmond.com

I’m modeling that daily deaths will be in the 1,000 range by the end of the month, down from a peak of over 5,000 daily deaths on February 12th. The latest IHME model (updated March 6th) is more optimistic, projecting an average of 862 daily deaths by March 31st, and falling to less than 100 per day by June 18th.

So at this point I’m quite optimistic that COVID is on the wane. I believe we’ll see a fairly rosy picture by the end of the month.

National Analysis

Here is the graph of daily new cases. We had about 41,000 new cases yesterday – the lowest daily number we’ve seen since early October 2020. Looking at early reports, today’s numbers look like they’ll come in about 39,000.

Here is the known active case count, showing 404,000 cases. We’ll be below 400,000 when all the numbers come in for today. This is a large 77% drop from the peak less than 2 months ago. We are showing some slowdown from the winter storm perturbation, but we’re past that now, and I expect the drop to accelerate from here on.

Below is the national daily death count. The brown line is my daily death model, in which I have a high degree of confidence, at least directionally. Actual deaths are lower than this, as I haven’t done the work to back out the reported March deaths that are actually occurred in December and January.

Here is the graph of daily deaths per 1,000 known active cases, still remarkably stable, and a good predicter of daily deaths over the next 3 weeks.

Individual States

All of the states I track are well past peak, with some receding faster than others, and some dropping precipitously. We have a few states showing mild increases lately, bucking the national trend, so I’ll keep an eye on these.

Here is Arizona, down 86% from the peak.

South Carolina is down 76% from the peak, and well below wave 2 levels.

Here is Florida – down 72% from the peak on January 8th. Now materially below July 2020 levels.

California is now down 94% from the peak, and well below wave 2 levels. A remarkable drop.

Georgia is down 75% from the peak, and again below July 2020 levels.

Same caveats with Texas as always – now down 73% from the peak, and below July 2020 levels.

Here are VA and NC. 78% drop from peak in NC, and 77% in VA.

Washington data has always been a mess. I won’t bore you with the details, as I have in previous reports, but here is what it looks like, now below wave 2 levels.

Here are NY and NJ – I don’t know why we see a small rise in these two states over the past week, but it can’t last long with the pace of vaccinations. NY is slightly behind the rest of the country in vaccine deployment, but not enough to explain this.

Here is Massachusetts. Down 77% from the peak on January 12th, and now well below wave 1 levels.

…And here is Michigan – we’ll have to watch this upward trend over the past 2 weeks.

Here is PA, down 76% from the peak on December 16.

Here is Colorado – also showing a small increase lately. With the vaccination rate, this should turn downward soon. Colorado is right in line with the national average for vaccine rollout.

Here is Illinois, down 87% from peak and now below May 2020 levels.

Here is Wisconsin, down 92% from the peak, and now below wave 2 levels.

Here is Alabama, down 78% from peak, and substantially below July 2020 levels.

And Tennessee… down 89% from peak, and below summer 2020 levels.

Here is Ohio – down 87% from the peak on December 14th.

Here is Indiana, down 88% from peak.

So that’s it for today. I’ll follow up with a national level report in a week or so. I’ll be using CDC data, which lags by one day, and is not vetted for older cases masquerading as current, but it’s what we have to work with.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

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