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A 4th Wave? I don’t think so…

As promised, I’ll continue to report at the national level from time to time using CDC data. I’m also reporting on NC, my home state.

Over the past 2 weeks many have asked about the rise in new cases reported daily in the news. Are they increasing? – well, maybe a little. I’ll let you decide. Here are the daily new case numbers from the CDC, including both confirmed and “probable” new cases:

Here is how this translates into reported active cases:

After a precipitous 5 week drop beginning in early January, the new case count has plateaued over the last 3 weeks. But that’s not the whole story. Looking at the new case data by age, I see that the age 65 and over cohort counts continue to decline, while the 18-34 cohort is rising. I did not foresee this, but perhaps I should have. I did make the comment at the beginning of the year that if we wanted to reduce deaths quickly, we should vaccinate seniors first, but if we wanted to reduce cases quickly, we should vaccinate college students first. Nationally, after a rough start, we have by and large put seniors at the front of the line. As of yesterday, over 75% of those 65 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, verses about 40% of the total adult population. In total, over 106 million people have received at least one dose. I believe this is enough to arrest the spread among the population cohorts with measurable COVID mortality. As a result, the rise in youth COVID is unlikely to have any effect on the continued decline in daily COVID deaths. And even the plateauing of the daily case count will be short lived, as the pace of vaccination is so fast now (nearly 3 million per day) that the size of the “spreading” cohort will continue to be compressed.

Below is the national daily death count. The brown line is my daily death model, in which I have a high degree of confidence. As expected, the daily death count continues to fall. It’s now been 9 days since we had a 1,000 death day. I’m projecting an average of less than 700 per day by April 22.

IHME is more pessimistic, projecting about 960 per day on April 22. However, I’m seeing continual improvements in daily deaths per active case. Here is the graph of daily deaths per 1,000 known active cases, still relatively stable, but falling from an average of 2.6 per 1,000 active cases to 2.1 per 1,000 active cases over the past several months. This makes sense, as the majority of COVID deaths occurred in the over age 65 cohort, and that group is now largely protected. I believe we’ll see further declines in daily deaths per active case as the new cases are skewed younger.

And here are the absolute daily deaths in the U.S. from last August to date, trending in a good direction.

North Carolina

It’s beyond the time I have in a day to track multiple states without good raw testing and cases data. I will, however, continue to track North Carolina (raw data from the NC DHHS website). Here is what it looks like as of yesterday:

We see a gradual rise over the past 3 weeks, then a drop over the past 3 days. We can’t read anything into this, as North Carolina has not reported data since April 1st (probably due to Easter weekend). When NC reports again (I expect tomorrow), the numbers will pop back up again.

Here is the new reported case graph for NC. Running about the same level as last summer.

And daily NC deaths. It’s nice to see the numbers continuing to improve…

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again in a week or two.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

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