Categories
COVID Archives

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

Categories
COVID Archives

COVID Deaths Continue Rapid Fall

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.

The CDC data is laborious to work with, and it seems that there is no data oversight or cleansing taking place. Here is just one example:

On March 8th, the CDC reported 81,806 new cases for the state of Missouri. This was totaled into the national numbers, and you’ve all seen the large bump in daily new cases that day in the news. However, it obviously makes no sense. MO has reported less than 600,000 total cases since the inception of COVID tracking. To add to the mystery, the CDC reported 81,474 of these new cases as “probable”. Looking at the state of Missouri’s spreadsheet, they show 1,585 probably cases for the entire week of March 4-10. Suspiciously, Missouri’s spreadsheet shows 82,685 probably cases over the entire past year. I don’t know what MO reported to the CDC, as the various state reports are not public, but it sure seems like a data entry error.

Sadly, Infection2020 still shows nearly 100,000 new cases on March 9th, and Johns Hopkins shows exaggerated numbers for both March 8th and 9th, although by less than 20,000 over the 2 days.

Oh, how I miss The COVID Tracking Project. Their team of analysts would have been all over this. In any event, I did adjust for the Missouri error, but I can only catch the obvious errors – I’m sure there is more that I’m not discovering.

In other news, it seems that mainstream reporting is catching on to the fact that social restrictions were not all that they were hoped to be. Here is an article yesterday from the AP: Virus tolls similar despite governors’ contrasting actions (apnews.com). I did some analysis on this back in May of 2020, comparing the results in VA and NC, coming to a similar conclusion – it’s pinned below.

National Analysis

As of yesterday, about 70 million Americans have received at least the first dose. That’s about 27% of the adult U.S. population. More importantly, about 2/3 of those 65 and over have had at least one dose. By my calculations, we need between 80 and 100 million to reach herd immunity (see my discussion from February 1st below). At the current rate of vaccination, we’ll get there by the end of March. Add another 2 weeks for the vaccinations to reach a level of effectiveness, and we’ll be at a substantial level of herd immunity.

The daily death count continues to fall. I’m modeling that daily deaths will be about 1,045 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 11th) is now slightly more pessimistic, showing 1,137 daily deaths on March 31st. However, they still show daily deaths dropping to less than 100 per day sometime in June.

Here is the graph of daily new cases. We’ve dropped over 50,000 active cases since my last report. As of yesterday, I’m modeling 352,256. This is a large 80% drop from the peak about 2 months ago.

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. As expected, the daily death count has fallen rapidly over the past month. 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 predictor of daily deaths over the next 3 weeks.

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. Here is what it looks like as of yesterday:

North Carolina is down an amazing 86% from the peak numbers on January 8th. To put it in perspective, NC now has a similar active case count to that of June 2020. It will be nice to watch this continue to fall.

Here is the new reported case graph for NC. Steady drop…

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

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

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

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

Categories
COVID Archives

Normal Life by April?

As of yesterday, over 80 million vaccines have been administered, and about 53 million have received at least the first dose. That’s about 21% 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). It now looks like we’ll get there by the end of March.

So what will that look like? I believe that we’ll see an asymptotic recovery. In other words, we’ll see steady declines over the next month, then a long tail of low level new cases, perhaps for a long time. But I believe that by April, COVID will no longer be the main driver in society as it has been over the past year. As I said in December – “After springtime, we’ll still see breakouts in certain communities based on vaccine acceptance, but it will be even more geographically localized than it is now, and these clusters will burn out quickly.” We’ll see testing decline over the next month or two. Testing is widely available now, so is demand driven rather than supply restricted, and as cases fall, so will testing, but not as fast as cases. We have a fair bit of “structural” testing in society now, where certain segments of the population are tested regularly.

So the big question is: “when will life return to normal”. Well, there are two aspects to this – the government response, and the population’s behavior. As far as the general population is concerned, we are already returning to normal. The IHME models social mobility based on geo-cell phone data. Looking at this, I’m finding that people are quite responsive to the daily new case and hospitalization data. For the entire U.S., social mobility reached a recent low of 66% below normal on January 1st. This makes sense, as the big numbers of wave 3 were all over the news at that time. As of February 16, social mobility rose to 72% of normal. That’s a 9% increase in social mobility as the news changed. But it varies by location. Let’s look at the 4 largest states (all data from IHME).

California is our largest state, with nearly 40 million people. They reached a recent low of 51% of normal social mobility, but are now at 63%. That’s an increase of 24%, quite significant. Texas reached a recent low of 74% at the beginning of the year, but now are still only at 78%, for an increase of only 5%. Of course, social mobility took a big hit there during the storm, and social mobility was already fairly high over the past 6 months. Florida was at 74% (same as Texas) on January 1st, and has risen slowly to 80% by February 16, for an increase of 8%. And finally, NY, similar to California – the recent low was 54% on February 1st, then moved quickly up to 65% in 2 weeks’ time, for an increase of over 20%. What I conclude from this is that people are generally responsive to the daily case count news. I expect that mobility will increase steadily as the case counts drop.

As far as the political response, I think we’ll continue to see a patchwork. We now have a number of states that have substantially removed all restrictions, the most recent being Texas. Critics say this is too soon, but if it is, it’s just by a couple of weeks. As you would expect, we’ll see private activity restored first, with public sector activities lagging. For example, I expect movie theatres to open far before government funded performing arts venues. And of course, there is the public school debacle, which is still playing out slowly in many locations. I don’t expect the public school system to get back to pre-COVID levels of enrollment for years, as many families have found alternative sources of education, causing enrollment to drop nearly everywhere. We’ll see similar pressure on higher education, after a year of “value for tuition” stress. Large swaths of the private sector are already functioning at pre-COVID levels, and I think that the hardest hit sectors (travel, entertainment, and physical retail) will recover faster than most pundits believe. People are itching for social contact, and memories with respect to negative events tend to be short. However, some things will remain in place indefinitely I believe – I’ll not be shaking hands with anyone again for a long time…

As I mentioned in my last report, the most credible data set (The COVID Tracking Project) is closing shop on March 8th. I’ll get one more detailed report in on that date, but after that I’ll either close up shop, or issue national level reports only. It will be more enjoyable tracing this pandemic on the way down than it was on the way up.

National Analysis

Here is the important picture. A remarkably rapid drop, and a stunning 74% drop from the January 11th peak.

We had a little bump in the active case count over the past week. This is largely from the massive winter storm and power outage, which caused a delay in reporting from the week prior. It caused the decline 2 weeks ago to appear faster than reality, and the week after to appear to increase. We can see this most clearly looking at Texas:

The precipitous decline the week of 2/15/2021 looked almost too good to be true, and it was. The following week shows the catch up reporting, and subsequent decline shows that we’re now past it.

Below is the national daily death count. The brown line is my daily death model, in which I have a high degree of confidence. Daily deaths lag active cases by about 3 weeks, but by 2 weeks from now we’ll be down to just over 1,000 deaths per day.

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. Here is Arizona, down 88% from the peak.

South Carolina is down 71% from the peak, and well below wave 2 levels.

Here is Florida – down 69% from the peak on January 8th. Now down materially below July levels.

California is now down 90% from the peak, and below wave 2 levels. A remarkable drop.

Georgia is down 70% from the peak, and now below July levels.

Same caveats with Texas as always – see my discussion of Texas above. Now down 69% from the peak, and below July 2020 levels.

Here are VA and NC. 75% drop from peak in NC, and 74% 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.

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 76% from the peak on January 12th, and now below wave 1 levels.

…And here is Michigan, down an amazing 84% from peak.

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

Here is Colorado, down 81% from the peak on November 21st.

Here is Illinois, down 86% from peak and now below May 2020 levels.

Here is Wisconsin, down 90% from the peak, and now below wave 2 levels.

Here is Alabama, down 77% from peak, and substantially below July 2020 levels.

And Tennessee… down 86% from peak, and below summer 2020 levels.

Here is Ohio – down 85% from the peak on December 14th.

Here is Indiana, down 88% from peak.

So that’s it for today. I’ll be able to do one more detailed report on March 7th or 8th.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

COVID in Full Retreat!

Yes, it’s true. As of yesterday, I model 463,843 known active cases, which is less than the wave 2 peak of last July (465,945). An artificial milestone for sure, but provides some perspective, as the wave 3 peak was nearly 4 times as large as wave 2. It shows just how far and how fast COVID is receding.

We’ve now vaccinated over 43 million people in the U.S. with at least one dose. I’ve explained why I focus on those with one dose or more, rather than 2 doses in the past, but here is a new article confirming that a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine provides substantial protection, which is why I believe it to be the more predictive statistic: Some Covid-19 Vaccines Are Effective After One Dose, Can Be Stored in Normal Freezers, Data Show – WSJ. And also this one: FDA documents show Pfizer COVID vaccine protects after 1 dose | CIDRAP (umn.edu)

At 43 million vaccinated, I believe we’re about half way toward herd immunity. I explain this in my February 1st discussion, pinned below. Here is an article from Dr. Makary, professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, claiming herd immunity by April. This comports well with my analysis – it was published the day after my last report: We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April – WSJ

Here is the prediction I made in late December:

I predict that we’ll see COVID in rapid decline in 2 months’ time, by the end of February, and life will more or less return to normal by spring 2021. After springtime, we’ll still see breakouts in certain communities based on vaccine acceptance, but it will be even more geographically localized than it is now, and these clusters will burn out quickly.

I took a lot of heat for that statement, as COVID was still rising at that time, but at this point the numbers speak for themselves.

As this terrible COVID chapter winds down, I’ll try and report a little more often until my data sources dry up (I have at least until March 7). It’s much more enjoyable to report when COVID is in retreat than when it’s rising.

National Analysis

Here is the important picture. A remarkably rapid drop, and a stunning 73% drop from the January 11th peak.

Below is the national daily death count. The brown line is my daily death model, in which I have a high degree of confidence. We’re starting to see the decline in daily deaths.

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 past peak, with some receding faster than others, and some dropping precipitously. Here is Arizona, down 84% from the peak.

South Carolina is down 51% from the peak.

Here is Florida – down 67% from the peak on January 8th. Now down materially below July levels.

California is now down 86% from the peak, and below wave 2 levels. A remarkable drop.

Georgia is down 69% from the peak, and now below July levels.

Same caveats with Texas as always – their reporting is messy, but nonetheless down 81% from the peak. Some of this could be delayed reporting and lack of testing during the storm. However, Texas didn’t report testing data for 4 days last week, but then reported a pretty typical 5 days’ worth on Friday, so I don’t think that’s the primary factor. Nonetheless, it will be difficult to make any conclusions about Texas data for another week or so. Texas data frequently has inconsistencies, but this makes it worse.

Here are VA and NC. 66% drop from peak in NC, and 67% in VA.

Washington data is a mess. I won’t bore you with the details, as I have in previous reports, but here is what it looks like.

Here are NY and NJ – NY down 55%, and NJ down 54%. NY and NJ are both below their April wave 1 levels.

Here is Massachusetts. Down 73% from the peak on January 12th, and now below wave 1 levels.

…And here is Michigan, down an amazing 87% from peak, and now below wave 1 levels.

Here is PA, down 73% from the peak on December 16.

Here is Colorado, down 83% from the peak on November 21st.

Here is Illinois, down 86% from peak and now below May 2020 levels.

Here is Wisconsin, down 89% from the peak, and now below wave 2 levels.

Here is Alabama, down 80% from peak, and substantially below July 2020 levels.

And Tennessee… down 88% from peak, and below summer 2020 levels.

Here is Ohio – down 83% from the peak on December 14th.

Here is Indiana, down 86% from peak.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again later this week, I expect with continued good news. Perhaps just a few reports left before I run out of data…

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

A stunning 69% drop from the January 11th peak

The good news continues. Since my last report one week ago, we have dropped nearly 200,000 known active cases. I’m now modeling about 544,000 remaining known active cases. In just a few days, I believe we’ll be below last summer’s peak (465,000). This is happening a good 10 days earlier than I had forecast.

Daily deaths are now falling, and will continue to fall steadily for at least the next 3 weeks (that’s as far as I forecast).

We’ve now vaccinated over 40 million people with at least one dose. The vaccination rate has slowed a bit due to the winter storm, but as I’ve written several times now, I believe that we reach herd immunity at less than 100 million vaccinated (see the February 1st discussion pinned to the end of this report). Why do I believe this? I’ve noticed for some time that when COVID reaches a certain prevalence in a geographic area, the propagation behaves as if it is resource constrained. The logical explanation is that a substantial portion of the population has a degree of COVID resistance. Here is yet another article describing this, sent to me by one of the doctors on this distribution list: Covid-19: Do many people have pre-existing immunity? | The BMJ I know little about the medical aspects of this, but do know that it explains the math. So far this year, it’s tracking as I expected.

I’ve been asked why I track the number of people receiving one or more doses, rather than the number who have completed the 2 dose cycle. Although it’s true that the 95% effectiveness requires the full cycle, FDA documents show that there is substantial effectiveness after the first dose, so I believe that this is the more revealing metric to track: FDA documents show Pfizer COVID vaccine protects after 1 dose | CIDRAP (umn.edu)

As I mentioned in my last report, several of the tracking and analytical sites are closing shop. In particular, The COVID Tracking Project, which I rely on for raw data, is closing on March 7th. I’ll continue reporting IF I can find another credible data source, otherwise, perhaps I’ll just track national data, which I can source myself. It depends on where we are by early March.

National Analysis

Here is where we stand with known active cases. We are back down to the level we saw last October, a stunning 69% drop from the January 11th peak. Sometime in the next few days, I believe we’ll be down to July 2020 levels, a bit of a milestone.

Below is the national daily death count. The brown line is my daily death model, in which I have a high degree of confidence.

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 past peak, with some receding faster than others, and some dropping precipitously. Here is Arizona, down 83% from the peak.

SC is down 49% from the peak.

Here is Florida – down 63% from the peak on January 8th. Now down materially below July levels.

California is now down 83% from the peak, and below wave 2 levels. A remarkable drop.

Georgia is down 67% from the peak, and now below July levels.

Same caveats with Texas as always – their reporting is messy, but nonetheless down 67% from the peak.

Here are VA and NC. 63% drop from peak in NC, and 56% in VA.

Washington data is a mess. I won’t bore you with the details, as I have in previous reports, but here is what it looks like.

Here are NY and NJ – NY down 51%, and NJ down 50%. NY and NJ are both below their April wave 1 levels.

Here is Massachusetts. Down 71% from the peak on January 12th, and now below wave 1 levels.

…And here is Michigan, down an amazing 87% from peak, and now below wave 1 levels.

Here is PA, down 69% from the peak on December 16.

Here is Colorado, down 80% from the peak on November 21st.

Here is Illinois, down 84% from peak and now below May 2020 levels.

Here is Wisconsin, down 88% from the peak, and now below wave 2 levels.

Here is Alabama, down 76% from peak, and substantially below July 2020 levels.

And Tennessee… down 85% from peak, and below summer 2020 levels.

Here is Ohio – down 81% from the peak on December 14th.

Here is Indiana, also down 83% from peak.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again next week, I expect with continued good news. Perhaps just a few reports left before I run out of data…

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

Active cases down 58%

Only good news today… Known active cases have been falling rapidly for a month now. In fact, we’ve fallen 58% from the peak on January 11th. A few weeks ago I said that by mid-February COVID would have fallen enough that even the press would notice, and this is now happening. If you’ve watched any news at all, you know that COVID is receding. I’m modeling about 732,000 known active cases left. This is still quite a bit above the peak of wave 2 in July, but I project that we’ll be down to July levels by the end of February.

In addition, we’ll now see daily deaths fall quite rapidly from this point out. I’m confident in this because deaths are fairly easy to project about 3 weeks out.

We’ve now vaccinated about 34 million people, or a bit over 10% of the population. That doesn’t sound like much, but we’ve now removed 10% of the population from susceptibility, and this has an immediate impact on Rt, the transmission rate. Every 10% of the population vaccinated should cause Rt to fall a similar 10%. As of yesterday, there were another 21 million doses delivered but not administered. I expect that the vaccination rate will increase based on this, so I’m thinking we’ll have 20% of the population vaccinated by the end of the month. As I’ve discussed several times, I believe that we reach herd immunity at less than 100 million vaccinated (see the February 1st discussion pinned to the end of this report). We should get there sometime in March.

In other news, as COVID winds down, several of the tracking and analytical sites are closing shop. In particular, The COVID Tracking Project, which I rely on for raw data, is closing on March 7th. I’ll continue reporting IF I can find another credible data source, otherwise, perhaps I’ll just track national data, which I can source myself. We’ll see.

In case you missed it, here is my latest radio interview: COVID, By the Numbers (virginiainstitute.org)

National Analysis

Here is where we stand with known active cases. We are back down to the level we saw on November 3rd of last year. I believe that we’ll be at July 2020 levels by the end of February.

Below is the national daily death count. I’m confident that we’ll see fairly rapid declines in daily deaths over the next 3 weeks. The brown line is my daily death model, which has tracked pretty well with actual data since August.

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 past peak, with some receding faster than others. Generally, the states hardest hit are declining the fastest. Here is Arizona, down 68% from the peak.

SC is down 40% from the peak.

Here is Florida – down 57% from the peak on January 8th. Now down below July levels.

California is now down 73% from the peak. A remarkable drop.

Georgia is down 58% from the peak, and almost at July levels.

Same caveats with Texas as always – their reporting is messy, but nonetheless down 48% from the peak.

Here are VA and NC. 53% drop from peak in NC, and 42% in VA.

Washington data is a mess. I won’t bore you with the details, as I have in previous reports, but here is what it looks like.

Here are NY and NJ – NY down 47%, and NJ down 40%. NY is now below their April wave 1 levels, and NJ is close.

Here is Massachusetts. Down 60% from the peak on January 12th.

…And here is Michigan, down an amazing 84% from peak, and just about at wave 1 levels.

Here is PA, down 63% from the peak on December 16.

Here is Colorado, down 79% from the peak on November 21st.

Here is Illinois, down 78% from peak and nearly at May 2020 levels.

Here is Wisconsin, down 85% from the peak.

Here is Alabama, down 63% from peak, and below July 2020 levels.

And Tennessee… down 74% from peak.

Here is Ohio – down 75% from the peak on December 14th.

Here is Indiana, also down 75% from peak.

I said I wouldn’t report again on South Dakota, but the news is positive, with SD down an amazing 91% from the peak. I model that SD has just 941 known active cases left.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again next week.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

COVID on the Run!

First, here is my latest radio interview, about 20 minutes long: COVID, By the Numbers (virginiainstitute.org)

As predicted, COVID is in rapid decline nearly everywhere. Since the national peak on January 11, active US COVID cases have declined by over 40%. Most of this decline is the natural course of the disease, but from this point on vaccinations will dominate the decline. I’m still modeling that we need less than 100 million vaccinated to reach herd immunity, and far less than that to influence the numbers. As of today, 26 million people are reported to have had one or more doses in the United States – with reporting lags, the true number is likely around 30 million. Many experts say we need 75% or more of the population vaccinated to reach herd immunity, or about 250 million.

Why do I think the number is so much less? Let’s start with how many people have had COVID. The official number reported as of yesterday is 25.8 million, but we know that reported cases are a fraction of those that have actually been infected. Serum studies back in the spring and summer suggest that anywhere from 10 to 50 times the reported number actually were infected. I believe that this multiple is much lower now with more ubiquitous testing. In fact, based on my mortality calculations in the spring, I triangulate that the current ratio is about 3.6. In other words, 25.8 million people have tested positive for COVID since the beginning, but more like 93 million have actually been infected. Since the ratio was certainly higher in the beginning, I’ll round up and call it an even 100 million – it could be more.

In addition to this, I believe that a substantial portion of the population has innate resistance to the disease. Those that have studied this estimate that somewhere between 20 and 50% of the population has some level of immunity due to T-Cell cross-reactivity with other viruses (for more on this read here: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/02/health/gupta-coronavirus-t-cell-cross-reactivity-immunity-wellness/index.html) If we assume the mid-point, that would suggest that 35% of the U.S. population has some level of built-in resistance to COVID. That would be another 116 million people.

I picture it like this:

The grey area represents those that are still susceptible to COVID, about 35% of the population. I’m assuming that the balance (65% of the population) now have some level of immunity, not including any of the recently vaccinated population. To get this number up to 75% — the range of herd immunity – we require that 33 million of the susceptible group be vaccinated. Of course, vaccines are not given only to those susceptible, but more evenly distributed across the 3 groups. Assuming an even distribution of vaccines, we require about 94 million vaccinated to get the job done. It would be less if we put those that had COVID later in the vaccination process, but I don’t think anyone is talking about that. In any event, it won’t take nearly as many vaccines as you’ve heard to make a serious dent in the COVID numbers.

Of course, these estimates are rough – we don’t have anything better to go on, but I think I’m in the ballpark. Also realize that I’m making three major assumptions here:

  • That those that have had COVID are substantially immune in the short term
  • That the vaccines are effective in preventing COVID
  • That a substantial portion of the population carries innate resistance to COVID

As far as the first assumption, I realize that there are reports of people contracting COVID more than once, but so far these are anecdotal reports and not statistically significant. The second assumption does not seem to be controversial, and the third I have written about over the past 6 months regularly. I continue to believe it based on the testing evidence and how well it explains the math. In any event, we’ll know soon enough…

National Analysis

Here is where we stand with known active cases. We are back down to the level we saw in the first half of November, with less than 1 million known active cases. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a leveling of this curve over the next 2 weeks, but by mid-month the vaccination process will be the controlling factor.

Below is the national daily death count. The brown line is my projection or peak daily deaths, which has been tracking pretty well. I expect peak daily deaths today or tomorrow, and then steady declines.

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 in general decline, with some receding faster than others, but all going in the same direction (with the exception of NJ). Here is Arizona, with significant declines over the past 20 days.

SC is now in general decline.

Here is Florida – down sharply since the peak on January 8th. Now back to mid-July levels.

California is back to where they were in early December.

Georgia peaked 19 days ago, and has fallen steadily since.

Same caveats with Texas as always – their reporting is messy, but nonetheless declining for 21 days.

Here are VA and NC. Big drop in NC, and a smaller decline in VA.

Washington data is a mess. I won’t bore you with the details, as I have in previous reports, but here is what it looks like.

Here are NY and NJ – NY declining nicely, but NJ relatively flat for nearly 2 months. This one is a mystery to me. It could be a function of the extremely high population density.

Here is Massachusetts. Familiar pattern.

…And here is Michigan, back down to October 2020 levels.

Here is PA with a general downward trend since mid-December.

Here is Colorado – also back down to October 2020 levels… They are down 75% from their peak.

Here is Illinois, similar to Colorado – dramatic decrease beginning mid-November.

Here is Wisconsin, same pattern. Here back to September levels.

Here is Alabama. In general decline for 20 days.

And Tennessee… dramatic decline from the peak.

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

Here is Indiana, following our now familiar pattern.

And finally, here is South Dakota, with just a bit over 1,000 cases left. This will likely be my last report on SC, as the numbers are not significant nationally, or even in contrast to the SD population…

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again in a week or two, I expect with more good news.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

COVID declines nearly everywhere

As predicted, we have significant declines in known active cases since my last report. In fact, we’re down well over 300,000 active cases since then. It’s too early for this to be vaccine driven, but I think the vaccines will have a noticeable effect over the next 5 weeks. According to CDC data, about 16.5 million vaccines have been administered, but they only report 3 times a week, and that with a 72 hour delay, so I’m guessing we’re somewhere in the 20 million range. There are about 20 million more doses distributed but not administered, so we should see the total vaccinated number climb pretty quickly. I’m calculating that we need 80 to 90 million vaccinated to reach herd immunity, far less than you’re hearing in the news. For my rationale on this, see my December 9th discussion near the end of this report.

Here is where we stand with known active cases. We are back down to the level we saw in early December, with 1.39 million known active cases. Active cases are declining by about 50,000 per day. This may not continue over the next week, but by mid-February we’ll start to see an impact from the vaccine, with steady declines thereafter.

Below is the national daily death count. The brown line is my projection or peak daily deaths, which has been tracking pretty well. I believe that daily deaths will rise from here until the end of the month, then decline rapidly. Coincidently, the IHME model (revised January 15) now projects peak daily deaths on February 1st, the same day as forecast by my model.

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

Individual States

All of the states I track are in general decline, with the exception of VA, SC, and possibly TX. I haven’t reported on Sweden for quite some time, so here it is. Sweden reports erratically, so take this one with a grain of salt, but it looks like a strong decline over the past 10 days.

Here is Arizona, with significant declines over the past week. You’ll see this pattern with a number of states that increased after the holidays.

SC is not yet in general decline, but with the recent peak at 0.72% of the population, I expect it to look like the other states soon.

Here is Florida – down sharply over the past 12 days. I no longer track Miami separately, as it hasn’t been a driving factor for some time now.

California is in the same place they were in mid-December, and now falling for the past 8 days.

Georgia has been declining for the past 8 days, but the peak was relatively low, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it increase again until the vaccine effect kicks in.

Texas shows recent declines, but their data has been messy, so I have no forecasts here.

Here are VA and NC. In my last report I said : “VA stands at 0.4%, and NC at 0.6%. I expect NC to decline first.” …and here we are.

Washington data is a mess. I won’t bore you with the details, as I have in previous reports, but here is what it looks like.

Here are NY and NJ – both declining over the past week.

Here is Massachusetts. Familiar pattern.

…And here is Michigan, with a strong decline over the past 10 days.

Here is PA with a nice 2 week decline, then a smaller increase in January, and now down again over the past week.

Here is Colorado – with the holiday bump, then down again. They are down more than 2/3 since the peak.

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

Here is Wisconsin, same pattern.

Here is Alabama. Last report I said they were near the top, and it proved to be the case.

And Tennessee… strong downward trend from their peak.

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

Here is Indiana, following our now familiar pattern.

And finally, here is South Dakota, with just 2,000 cases left.

So that’s it for today. Monique and I are hiking in the Chihuahuan Desert over the next week, so I’ll likely not report again until the end of the month.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

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