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COVID Archives

Wave 3 is cresting now…

The COVID Tracking Project data is coming on line later at night than it used to be, so that throws me off my schedule a bit – unless this changes, I’ll continue to write my report a little earlier, based on the previous day’s data.

Nationally, wave 3 is cresting now. Of the states that I track (now 22 states plus Sweden), 9 states are still increasing (NY, CA, NC, VA, GA, PA, TX, AZ, and OH), NJ is increasing moderately, and 12 states are level or declining (WA, FL, MA, SC, MI, CO, IL, AL, WI, TN, SD, and IN). As promised, I’ve added South Dakota to mix, which by the way crested and is now declining rapidly (see discussion below). I’ve included a full report on all the tracked states today.

Here is the picture of modeled known active cases nationally. You can see the inflection point, and it looks like the top of wave 3 is forming. I model 1.18 million known active cases, which is about 0.36% of the population. There are still areas of the country that have not reached peak saturation, but there are not many population centers left that haven’t reached the vicinity of critical mass.

Here is the national daily death count. Increasing as expected with wave 3. The brown line is my projection of daily deaths, based on 2.75 deaths per 1,000 known active cases and a 21 day lag. I’m going to leave this projection on the graph without change (except that I’ll keep projecting 21 days out, extending the projection by one day each day) to see how the algorithm fares. I’m expecting daily deaths to crest around December 13th at about 3,200 daily deaths. The IHME model projects a daily death peak on January 8th, at 2,562 daily deaths. I’m expecting an earlier, but higher peak.

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 been stable for months.

We continue to see a steady march upward in daily test reports. It’s been over a month since we’ve see a sub-million day. We set a new record on November 21st with over 2 million reports.

Individual States

Here is Arizona, continuing to increase rapidly. AZ is about to surpass its wave 2 peak, which was about 0.37% of the population. I don’t expect this state to get above about 34,000 active cases.

SC has been slowing declining over the past 4 days. Let’s hope this continues.

Here is Florida – Just a couple of day halt in the growth, so I put it in the flat category, but it’s just a few days, so we’ll see if this continues.

Same with California – a several day halt in the growth – that peak is just 0.2% of the population, so I’m afraid there is more growth to come here.

Georgia is still growing — Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population back in July. Again, more growth to come I believe.

Texas has been growing rapidly since mid-October. It sits now at 0.25% of the population. This number has proven a little low for a peak, so I’m expecting a bit more growth here.

VA and NC tend to mirror each other, and this is certainly proving true now. NC sits at 0.24% and VA at 0.19%. If the pattern holds, there will be more growth in both these states, but especially VA.

Here is the daily death report for NC, with no real movement for nearly 4 months. I do think we’ll see increases over the next 3 weeks.

Now some better news. A big drop in Washington over the past week. Still less than 0.20% of the population, so I don’t think this decline will hold, but I hope it does.

Here are NY and NJ – NY continues rapid growth, while we see some attenuation in NJ.

Here is Massachusetts. Flat for a week now. Let’s hope this is the top.

…And here is Michigan, slowing, and then turning around. The high water mark was just a hair over 0.5%, so I think this is the top.

PA is still ascending rapidly. They are at 0.35% of the population, so I think we’ll see the top over the next two weeks.

Here is Colorado — The beginnings of a nice turnaround here.

Here is Illinois. Declining for 10 days now. I like what I see here, and the peak was high enough to stick.

Here is Wisconsin. After making so many headlines, they look much better now.

Here is Alabama. Their data has been quite discontinuous, but looking better lately. Some of the new cases reported on November 14th were historical, which skews the graph.

And Tennessee… Rapid decline over the past week. The peak was at 0.46%, so I think this is it.

Ohio is still growing fast, but at 0.49%, I have to think the top is very near.

Here is Indiana. Improvement over the past 4 days, which I expect to continue.

And finally, here is South Dakota. A rapid ascent, and an equally rapid descent over the past 9 days. Many articles in the news about SD “out of control”. Now it looks like the worst is over here.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again just after the holiday, and as promised, I’ll revisit Sweden.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

My first daily death projection

Back in April I never thought I’d be writing about COVID in November, but here we are. Nationally, new cases are setting records, but many of the wave 3 “hot spot” states are leveling or in actual decline. There is a lot happening with the numbers right now, so I’m going to report a bit more often, probably twice a week over the next few months. I think it’s important to analyze the high watermarks in the wave 3 states as they peak and decline, and it won’t be long before we start to see the effect of vaccinations on the numbers. I’m also going to write later this week about South Dakota (spoiler – it’s in decline), and an update on Sweden (also in decline).

Let’s start today’s discussion with a look at peak active cases by the state as a percentage of the population. I have long written about my theory that COVID peaks at a low % of the population (I’ve said between ¼ and ½ of a percent) and then declines. This has been borne out by observing wave 1 in April and wave 2 in July. For just a bit of background, here is the introduction from my report on August 6, 2020, a bit over 3 months ago.

I’ve talked a lot over the past weeks about how COVID known active cases tend to peak in the range of 0.25% to 0.50% of the population in a given area, then decline. For the longest time, it has puzzled me. However, I’ve been seeing more and more theories about full or partial immunity in a large swath of the population. Although I know little about medicine, this is quite congruent with the data, so I tend to believe it has some validity. Here is an article published today on CNN by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, postulating that as much as 50% of the population carries some level of built-in resistance to COVID: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/02/health/gupta-coronavirus-t-cell-cross-reactivity-immunity-wellness/index.html

This may be the missing piece of the puzzle. I’m seeing a ceiling in known active cases of, let’s say 1/3 of one percent. Now bear with me for a little arithmetic — When a location reaches this threshold, roughly 5 times the active case count has confirmed positive, so that means something over 1.5% of the population has been confirmed to have had COVID. However, we know that the actual prevalence of the disease is a large multiple of known cases. There is quite a range here based on the various antibody studies, but the average consensus seems to be about 10x. Assuming that, when a locality reaches the ceiling, perhaps 15% of the population has had COVID in total. If we add this 15% to 50% of the population that has some level of innate immunity, we have 65%, which is right in the range of herd immunity.

Let’s see how it looks today. Here are the 18 states I track with their peak known active cases as a percent of the population:

The horizontal line is the 0.50% of the population mark, where I’ve hypothesized that the COVID population ceiling exists. However, we have several states above this level. Of these, the first four on the left (WI, CO, IL, IN), have recently slowed, leveled, and 3 of them have begun their decline. Of the remaining states, most have had their high watermark in the past, but may still be growing or not (see details below). The only states that set new high water marks yesterday are OH, PA, TX, MI, VA, CA, and NJ. Of these, MI and NJ are now slowing.

So we’re still seeing known active cases turn around at a fairly low level of the population, although a bit higher than I first theorized. I believe this is because we are now “discovering” a higher percentage of actual COVID cases than we were in wave 1 and wave 2. You might remember that reported cases represent a fraction of the total prevalence of COVID. Random testing studies from April to August point to a prevalence to a reported ratio in the 10 – 20 range. I used two of these studies back in late April to make my initial calculations of mortality rates, which, by the way, still seem to be valid. (See my mortality rate discussion at the bottom of this report from April 28th). The problem for those of us mathematical modelers is that we haven’t seen any robust domestic random test studies since August. Many experts are still using the factor of 10 as rule of thumb for prevalence to reported case ratio, but could this still be reasonable? Back during wave 2 in July, we had a reasonable idea that a factor of 10 was in the ballpark. That means that my hypothesized ceiling of known active cases at 0.50% would translate to about 5.0% of “true” active cases. However, we now have a cumulative total of about 12 million reported cases. Are we to believe that this implies that over 120,000,000 Americans have or have had COVID? That would be 1 out of every 3 people. I don’t think so. I have to believe that the prevalence to reported ratio is lower now, due to ubiquitous testing. Take a look at the daily reported test numbers.

Back in July, we were reporting daily test results in the 750,000 range. However, yesterday we set a new record of just under 2 million reported tests. I do believe that any given new COVID case is more likely to be “known” than it was in July. If this is true, then we’d expect to see higher percentages of the population at peak than we saw in wave 2. In any event, the states on the left side of my high watermark graph are all turning around, so I think the general behavior still holds.

My first daily death projection

I’ve often shown you this calculation, which is daily deaths in the U.S. per 1,000 modeled active cases.

Here we see continued declines in this metric for the past 9 weeks. From this we can conclude that the disease is far less deadly than it was in wave 1 back in April. But can we conclude that wave 3 is less deadly than wave 2? Not necessarily. We know that, with some lag time, cases predict hospitalizations, and hospitalizations predict deaths. Although it has not been true for wave 1, during wave 2 we learned that deaths lag cases by about 3 weeks. Now look what happens when we calculate daily deaths per 1,000 modeled active cases, but with a 21-day lag:

Now that’s remarkable. The metric is very stable since wave 2, averaging about 2.75 deaths per day per 1,000 modeled known active cases. As of yesterday, I model 1,167,945 known active cases. From that, I project about 3,200 cases per day 21 days from now. Interestingly, the latest IHME model update is projecting 2,200 daily deaths by December 12, about 2/3 of my projection. I hope to be wrong.

Well, I think that’s a lot for today. I’ll report all the various stats in my next report in a few days, but for now, I’ll just show the progress in the 4 wave 3 hotspot states in some state of improvement.

Wisconsin

It was just recently that Wisconsin was the most troublesome are of the country. After rapid growth, the state began leveling a bit over a week ago.

Colorado

Here the slowdown is only a few days old, but Colorado is now at 0.70% of the population, so I’m inclined to believe the slowing will continue.

Illinois

Illinois has been in decline for 8 days now, and at 0.69% of the population, it makes sense.

Indiana

Indiana began slowing 8 days ago and saw it’s first actual decline yesterday. Indiana is at about 0.66% of the population.

Well, that’s all for today. In my next report, I’ll go through the complete slate of stats, as well as a report on Sweden.

Cheers.

Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

Cases increase rapidly, deaths do not

Cases continue to increase at quite a pace, but not evenly distributed across the U.S. As I mentioned in my last report, the first wave in April was centered in the Northeast, while the second wave in July was all about the sunbelt. This third wave is centered in the Midwest, but more dispersed than wave 1 and 2. Of the states I’m tracking, I’d say that WA, NY, NJ, CA, MA, MI, TX, PA, CO, IL, WI, OH, TN, and IN are increasing rapidly. VA, FL, AZ, are increasing at a slower pace, and NC, SC, GA, and AL have been relatively flat. Here is what the new daily reported case count looks like. Over the past week, new cases are a good 50% over what they were during wave 2.

Let’s look at the known active case curve. We’re now at about 789,000 active cases, well over the wave 2 peak of 468,000. If Wave 3 behaves like 1 and 2, I suspect it will peak soon, and then begin the march downward.

Part of the rise in daily cases is driven by the rise in asymptomatic testing. We’re now in the 1.4 million per day range. band. When wave 3 began, we were testing about 800,000 per day. So testing has increased 75% since that time, but new cases have tripled. I believe that increased testing explains less than 40% of the increase in cases.

As predicted, we’re seeing an increase in daily deaths, but as with wave 2, a very small increase in daily deaths in comparison to the increase in active cases.

Here is a closer look at daily deaths over the past 5 weeks. You can see the upward trend, but it’s quite mild in comparison to the very rapid increase in cases.

A more effective measure of mortality is the daily deaths per active case. We’re seeing a steady fall in death rate since mid-September. I believe this is caused partly by improved medical results, but primarily by demographics. Those infected are skewing younger, and the young have a negligible effect on mortality. I do expect an increase in this metric as well, primarily because deaths lag cases by 2-3 weeks. So we’ll see deaths continue to rise even when cases begin falling again which pushes this metric up. We don’t see it yet, however, which is a small silver lining.

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Individual States

Here is Arizona. They changed their reporting protocol on September 17 to add the results of antigen testing. Part of the upward drift since then is a result of this definitional change. Arizona continues with a fraction of the COVID they had in July.

SC has been relatively flat for over 2 months, with a slow drift upwards over the past 2 weeks. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The Covid Tracking Project).

Here is Florida – down dramatically from the top, and drifting upwards for over a month now. I find it interesting that Miami is relatively flat – they were a big driver of Florida results during wave 2.

California active cases have doubled over the past 3 weeks, although the numbers are still small for a state with 40 million people. CA peaked at a low 0.17% of the population, so we won’t be surprised if this continues to increase. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people, so there is some overcounting here.

Georgia is still doing pretty well in comparison to most other states. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

In my last report I said that “Texas is rising again, and peaked at 0.235% of the population (a little low), so it wouldn’t surprise me if we some more growth here.” Well, it’s happening now. Texas has more than doubled their known active cases in less than a month. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).

Now this is interesting. NC has flattened out over the past week (good news), while VA continues to grow. That bump in NC numbers at the end of September is NC reporting an additional 4,563 “probable” cases on September 25th.

Here is the daily death report for NC, reporting a record for daily deaths on November 3rd, but otherwise flat for over 3 months now.

Washington has had so many reporting protocol changes it’s difficult to interpret this graph, but even through all the data fog I’d say it’s increasing rapidly. Still at a small 0.116% of the population, so I think there is more to come.

Here are NY and NJ – Significant percentage increases in both NY and NJ. NY is well under their April numbers, but NJ is now at about 60% of their peak.

Here is Massachusetts. Growing rapidly, and now at about 75% of the April peak.

…And here is Michigan, clearly growing fast. They sit now at 0.339% of the population, so I expect a turnaround here soon.

PA is also growing, as expected. They are still at only .174% of the population, so I believe there is more to come.

Here is Colorado, at a new peak. A little slowing in the past few days, and they are now at 0.36% of the population, so I think this will turn soon as well.

Here is our first look at Illinois. The very definition of the word “spike”. Now at 0.53% of the population, I think they’re close to the ceiling.

Here is Wisconsin. They now hold the record for population peak. No sign of slowdown yet, but I believe this state will hit the ceiling very soon.

Here is Alabama. Fairly flat until the end of October, then a spike (I don’t know why yet), and then fairly flat.

And Tennessee… growing fast, and now at 0.34% of the population. Should be near the top soon.

Ohio is also growing fast, and sits at 0.28% of the population, so I’m sadly expecting a bit more growth here.

And finally, here is Indiana. They stand at 0.435% of the population. I expect a slowing here soon.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again in a week or so (longer if absolutely nothing changes, shorter if we see developments).

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

Does More Cases Mean More Deaths?

On Saturday over 83,000 new cases were reported in the U.S. That’s a new record, more than 6,000 cases higher than the previous peak on July 17. Here is the daily new case count:

Where is this happening, and what does it mean? Let’s start by looking at geography. There were 13 states that each had more than 2,000 new cases. These 13 states made up 57% of all new cases. Here they are:

Texas and California are at the top, then Illinois and Wisconsin. Since these states are where the current volume is, I’ve added the 6 states here that I didn’t follow to my model starting today (IL, WI, AL, TN, OH, IN). Of course, the more important thing to look at is the active case curve, which I show for 21 states below. Texas and California are our 2 highest population states, so even if case counts were evenly distributed, these two states would show the highest new cases. However, the media reports new cases (and occasionally daily deaths when they are high), so I’m leading with this.

Of more interest to me is the high water mark for each state with respect to known active cases. Again and again, we’ve seen the pattern where a geographical area reaches a certain threshold as a percentage of the population, and then declines rapidly. This threshold is in the range of 1/3 of one percent. Let’s look at the high water marks for the 21 states I’m following now:

The brown horizontal bar is set at the 1/3 of one percent threshold. Many of these states have already reached definitive peaks, and some are setting high water marks now. It is the states on the right side of this chart that worry me. Wisconsin surprises me with a new population percentage record at 0.51%, and at this level I fully expect it will begin its decline shortly. With state to state mobility at very low levels, we are a collection of individual state patterns. In April we saw the Northeastern states with the most volume, then in July the sunbelt, and now the middle of the country. I’ll keep modeling these 21 states to see where each stands on the curve.

In other news, the folks at IHME updated their model on October 22nd, and again decreased their daily death projection. The October 15th revision projected 2,149 daily deaths by year end, and the October 22nd revision now projects 2,042. They’ve had a long string of downward revisions, so not sure what to make of this. The surveys on mask use that they model from show current mask use at 68%, which is an all-time high in the U.S. I believe that mask use is a key independent variable in their model.

Let’s look at the known active case curve. We’re now at about 465,000 active cases, just a hair less than the Wave 2 peak of 468,000. If Wave 3 behaves like 1 and 2, I suspect it will peak in the next couple of weeks, and then begin the march downward.

Part of the rise in daily cases is driven by the rise in asymptomatic testing. We’re now solidly in the 1 to 1.2 million per day band. Just 3 weeks ago testing was in the 800K to 1 million range. As I said in my last report, the increase in testing would explain about a 10,000 per day increase in reported cases, but that’s only a part of the increase we’ve seen lately.

As predicted, we’re seeing the first signs of an increase in daily deaths. We had our first 4 figure daily death report for the month of October on Thursday. I expect we’ll see a 3 week swell in the daily death rate, then begin the slow march downward again.

A more effective measure of mortality is the daily deaths per active case. I expect an increase in this metric as well, primarily because deaths lag cases by 2-3 weeks. So we’ll see deaths continue to rise even when cases begin falling again which pushes this metric up.

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Individual States

Here is Arizona. They changed their reporting protocol on September 17 to add the results of antigen testing. Part of the upward drift since then is a result of this definitional change. Arizona continues with a fraction of the COVID they had in July.

 

SC has been relatively flat for over 2 months. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The Covid Tracking Project).

Here is Florida – down dramatically from the top, and drifting upwards for 12 days now. Note that Miami is no longer the key driver of the state’s results.

California has increased over the last 5 days. CA peaked at a low 0.17% of the population, so we won’t be surprised if this continues to increase. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people, so there is some overcounting here.

Georgia is still doing pretty well. Relatively stable for the past 3 weeks. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

Texas reported nearly 22,000 historical cases around September 23rd, and that caused the big bump at the end of the September. Texas is rising again, and peaked at 0.235% of the population (a little low), so it wouldn’t surprise me if we some more growth here. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).

NC and VA have tended to track each other, but NC reported an additional 4,563 “probable” cases on September 25th, and subsequent to that is growing faster than Virginia. NC has started to flatten out over the past week, but only ever hit 0.137% of the population, which worries me.

Here is the daily death report for NC, flat for 3 months now.

Washington has had so many reporting protocol changes it’s difficult to interpret this graph, but even through all the data fog I’d say it’s clearly increasing. Washington peaked at only 0.073% of the population, so I think there is more to come.

Here are NY and NJ – Significant percentage increases in both NY and NJ, albeit from small numbers. New York has leveled off over the past 17 days, while NJ continues to grow.

Here is Massachusetts. Like NY, they have a significant percentage increase in active cases, but again, on top of a small base. Growth is slow here, but has accelerated over the past 3 days.

…And here is Michigan, clearly growing fast. They sit now at 0.145% of the population, still nowhere near the ceiling.

PA is also growing, as expected. The peak was very low (0.091% of the population), so I believe there is more to come.

And finally, here is Colorado, at a new peak. It’s still only 0.143% of the population, so more to come I’m afraid.

Here is our first look at Illinois. The very definition of the word “spike”. Still at only 0.23% of the population, but getting closer to the ceiling.

Here is Wisconsin. Again, growing very fast, and already at 0.51% of the population. I believe this state will hit the ceiling very soon.

Here is Alabama. Fairly flat until yesterday. I’m guessing this is a data anomaly, but haven’t researched it yet. Every time we’ve seen one of these one day dramatic increases, it’s been a historical data dump or a case redefinition.

Our first look at Tennessee… growing fast, and now at 0.26% of the population. Should be near the top soon.

Ohio is also growing fast, and sits at just 0.13% of the population, so I’m sadly expecting more growth here.

And finally, here is Indiana. Once again, growing fast, and still not terribly close to the ceiling. They stand at just 0.215% of the population.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again in a week or so (longer if absolutely nothing changes, shorter if we see developments).

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

Is this the 3rd wave?

Well, the 3rd Wave is all the news. Nationally, active cases are definitively increasing. I model that we’ve added 52,000 known active cases since my last report one week ago. Here are new daily cases. Steady increases for about 3 weeks. We’re not at July peak levels yet, but we’re not far off.

Here is the graph of known active cases. We’re sitting at just a hair over 400,000 cases nationally. We peaked in July at 468,000. You can see the first wave which peaked in April, the second wave which peaked in July, and the steady line up defining the third wave.

So the big question is: Will this be a repeat of July, not as bad, or something worse. Remember that the 1st wave was the deadliest, albeit with less than ½ the active cases of wave 2. So far, this 3rd wave looks a bit different. Look at the slope of the curve in wave 2 verses wave 3 below:

Cumulative case growth rates were in the 2% range during Wave 2, and about 0.75% during the current wave. Wave 3 is happening slower than Wave 2 (at least so far).

I’ve talked at length about the “population ceiling”, where active cases reach a hard ceiling in the range of 0.25% to 0.4% of the population, then begin a decided decline. I mention this again, because the three Waves have been in different geographical areas. The first Wave was predominantly in the Northeast, the second Wave was in the Sun Belt, and the third Wave is dominated by the Midwest. Of the 15 states that I track, here is the high water mark as a percentage of the population for each one as of yesterday (the horizonal bar is the average of the 15 states). Note that we have quite a few states that never reached the population ceiling.

Of the 15 states, the ones that I would refer to as “spiking” (you can see all the individual state graphs below and form your own opinion) are Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Look where they lie on this chart:

I’ve repeatedly pointed out the various states that peaked at a low percentage of the population, and speculated that there would be more to come. I do think that this is, at least in part, what is happening now. I believe that the Wave 3 states will grow until they, as well, hit the population ceiling.

Of course, part of the rise is the ubiquitous campus testing, and a bit of it is always historical cases reported as new. Here is what daily testing looks like. We’re yet again in a new band of testing. We averaged about 800,000 reported tests per day from the middle of July to the middle of September. Now million test days are common, and we’ve seen 2 days of over 1.2 million. That rise of about 25% would explain daily cases increasing from 40,000 to 50,000, but doesn’t explain it all. In the past 12 days we’ve averaged 55,000 cases per day, verses 42,800 in the preceding 12 days. So we’re definitely seeing an increase in the underlying disease, although it’s not uniform as you’ll see from the individual state results below.

The next question is what will happen to mortality… So far, we’re still seeing a gradual decline in daily deaths since about mid-August. You can see the very deadly Wave 1, the less deadly Wave 2, and no effect yet from Wave 3. The decline is slow and subtle, but we haven’t seen a 1,000 death day since September.

If we start the graph on September 1st, the pattern is a bit more obvious:

I maintain that a more effective measure of death rates is the daily deaths per 1,000 cases. Here is what that looks like – high mortality during the first Wave, and much lower during the second Wave. We are still trending downward since the middle of September, but where will it go from here? To the extent that the increase in case volume is predominately among the young, I would think we’ll continue to see a decline, as COVID below age 60 has little impact on daily deaths. However, we do see an upward trend in hospitalizations, and that disturbs me. Hospitalization is a reasonable predictor of mortality, so I’m thinking we’ll see a swell in daily deaths over the next 3 weeks. We observed in Wave 2 that the increase in deaths from about 500 per day to over 1,000 per day happened 1 to 3 weeks after active case peak.

More on the individual states below – here are the daily stats.

  • Modeled known active cases in U.S. 401,030
  • Likely date of active case peak (Chalke modeling): July 23
  • Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): January 17 (last revision on October 15)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 1,200,056 (very high)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 0.70% (very low)

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Individual States

Here is Arizona. They changed their reporting protocol on September 17 to add the results of antigen testing. I believe the upward drift since then is a result of this definitional change. Arizona continues with a fraction of the COVID they had in July.

SC has been relatively flat for nearly 2 months. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The Covid Tracking Project).

Here is Florida – down dramatically from the top, and fairly flat for 6 weeks. Note that Miami is no longer the key driver of the state’s results.

California has not materially changed in over a month. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people, so there is some overcounting here.

Georgia is still doing pretty well. Relatively stable for the past 3 weeks. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population, so I’d be surprised to see any real increases here. GA is now down 64% from the peak. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

Texas reported nearly 22,000 historical cases around September 23rd, and this skews the data. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).

NC and VA have tended to track each other, but NC reported an additional 4,563 “probable” cases on September 25th, and subsequent to that is growing faster than Virginia. North Carolina hit a new high water mark yesterday, but is still at only 0.137% of the population.

Here is the daily new case count for NC – you can see the anomaly. I should point out that this is not the fault of NC. They simply report the total each day, and the new totals are picked up by the reporting sites and catalogued as new. Nonetheless we’re seeing daily cases at July levels.

Here is the daily death report for NC, flat for 3 months now.

Washington has had so many reporting protocol changes it’s difficult to interpret this graph, but even through all the data fog I’d say it’s spiking. Washington peaked at only 0.073% of the population, so I think there is more to come.

Here are NY and NJ – Significant percentage increases in both NY and NJ, albeit from small numbers. New York has leveled off over the past 2 weeks.

Here is Massachusetts. Like NY, they have a significant percentage increase in active cases, but again, on top of a small base. Growth is slow here.

…And here is Michigan, clearly growing fast. They sit now at 0.127% of the population, still nowhere near the ceiling.

PA is also growing, as expected. The peak was very low (0.091% of the population), so I believe there is more to come.

And finally, here is Colorado, at a new peak. It’s still only 0.117% of the population, so more to come I’m afraid.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again in a week or so (longer if absolutely nothing changes).

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

A new piece of the puzzle?

Well, it’s been a long 20 days since my last report. The propagation of this disease continues to be quite slow, and in fact, not a lot has happened in the last 20 days. We’ve added about 45,000 active known cases, yet the daily death count continues to fall (albeit slowly). In both of the last two updates to the IHME model, they have reduced substantially their forward death predictions. Prior to October 2nd, IHME was projecting nearly 3,620 daily deaths by year end. With their October 2nd update, they lowered that to 2,941, and with the October 9th update, that number is now 2,197. That’s a remarkable 40% reduction in 2 weeks (that should make headlines, but no). I still don’t see any indicators that even this will happen. We are currently averaging less than 1,000 deaths per day, and this number is steadily falling. Even though the active case count is increasing, it is skewing younger, and will have a minimal impact on mortality.

Once I was able to calculate mortality rates by age back in April, I thought that the most effective response to the pandemic was to protect those with high COVID mortality rates, and let everyone else get back to life. Here is my quote from April 28th:

So as we recover as a society, the methodology seems settled that we’ll unlock one geographic area at a time. But we have 2 easily identifiable populations, once with relatively high risk, and one with a tiny fraction of the risk. It occurs to me that we could more safely unlock by doing it demographically, rather than geographically. We could extend shelter in place rules for seniors and those with definable risk factors, and eliminate them for the under 65 and healthy population. It would also be fairly easy to define perhaps one concentric circle around the vulnerable by maintaining shelter in place rules for certain caregivers and health care workers. So that’s my message for today: Unlock Demographically, Not Geographically.

At this point, I believe this is what we are naturally doing as a society. Young people have figured out that COVID is not a death sentence for them, and largely bears a similar inconvenience to that of a cold or flu. Those with certain pre-existing diseases and those of advanced age have figured out that they better take the necessary precautions to avoid COVID. Hence the slowly growing case count, and the slowly declining mortality.

This pandemic has eluded modelers from the beginning, including me. I fully expected it to follow the classic Logistic pattern of resource constrained diseases, but it slowed down rapidly and definitively. Here are the puzzling questions:

  • Why do so few get this disease? We’ve observed an active case ceiling of about 1/3 of one percent of the population.
  • Why do some areas have a completely different experience than others, irrespective of societal constraints?

I continue to believe that a significant level of innate resistance to the disease is a part of the puzzle, perhaps through T-Cell cross-reactivity with the common cold. This theory is now a central part of the discussion, but science is all over the place about the actual threshold of herd immunity, and to what extent prior resistance contributes to it. Here is a well written article about some of the latest: https://reason.com/2020/09/29/is-the-covid-19-herd-immunity-threshold-as-low-as-15-percent/

There is yet another possible piece of the puzzle, outlined in this article from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/09/k-overlooked-variable-driving-pandemic/616548/?mod=djemMER_h As modelers we tend to treat all COVID carriers as the same, often quoting the reproduction rate “r”, as if it is homogeneous across carriers. However, research now shows that probability of transmission varies considerably from individual to individual. Put more simply, many, if not most of those with COVID are not contagious at all, with a minority of carriers responsible for most of the spreading. This article cites numbers in the 80/20 range, where 80% of carriers are not likely to transmit the disease, and 20% of carriers are responsible for most of the spreading.

IF this turns out to true, there are a lot of ramifications. Most importantly, it would explain why this disease grows in spurts, which tend to die out rather quickly. Think of it this way – If one out of 5 people infected is a “spreader”, and the R value is 1 (we’re close to that now), then that means that 4 out of five carriers infect no one, and the 5th infects 5 people. Of those 5 new infected people, there is a 33% probability that not one of them is a spreader, and thus the chain is halted. However, there is a 67% chance that 1 or more of the 5 is a “spreader”, so the chain continues. However, if you do the math, we find that once a single person is infected the chance of the chain dying out by the 3rd generation (about 3 weeks) is well over 50%. No one knows yet what the precise numbers look like, but this is the idea. Clusters pop up and then burn out rather quickly. This matches what we observe, and could at least partly explain why this disease hasn’t gotten more purchase (thankfully).

Another ramification of this theory is that, if true, it adds a higher degree of randomness to the propagation. If an area is unlucky enough to have linked together 5 or 6 generations of spreaders in a single chain, they see a quite noticeable eruption. It’s not nearly so smooth as if it were all homogeneous.

Testing has entered a new level, with daily counts in the million range. We set a new daily record on Saturday, with 1,233,178 tests reported. This explains some of the case count growth, as university testing tends to uncover asymptomatic cases that otherwise would never be known. The U.S. has now recorded over 115 million tests.

On another topic, I continue to be plagued by inconsistent, unreliable, and mistaken data. On September 22nd, Texas reported an additional 21,967 historical cases. On September 25, North Carolina began reporting “probable” cases, and increased their total count by 4,563 in a single day. On Saturday, a private lab in Florida reported about 400,000 test results that appear to have been previously reported, and Florida has had its hands full “de-duping” these. And on and on… It’s been too time consuming for me to run my own “shadow” database, so I’m just letting the numbers run through my model, which in most cases has skewed the case counts higher than actual.

Feel free to send me your questions about my assumptions, methodology, or modeling in general.

  • Modeled known active cases in U.S. 343,790
  • Likely date of active case peak (Chalke modeling): July 23
  • Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): January 17 (last revision on October 9)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 943,645 (very high)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 11,261 (very low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 0.61% (very low)

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Daily Analysis

Here is the national picture. Active cases have been trending upwards for nearly 30 days. As always, it’s spotty, with some states seeing increases, and some in continued decline. I mentioned in my last report that I continue to be puzzled by the phenomenon where geographical areas will reach a low level of COVID prevalence, and, rather than continuing the decline, it remains stationary. Will this ultimately be like the common cold (another Coronavirus), where a certain percentage of the population always has it?

Look at the daily new cases. A strong trend upward since the localized low of early September.

The daily death count is exhibiting a very slow decline for the better part of two months now. Here is the picture:

If we isolate the trend since August 1st it becomes obvious. I don’t see anything that threatens to derail this trend.

Daily deaths per 1,000 active cases is the best measure of the deadliness of this disease in my opinion. It’s been relatively stable for 2 months now, and decidedly below April and May levels.

On to the states.

Here is Arizona. They changed their reporting protocol on September 17 to add the results of antigen testing. The mild upward drift is a result of this definitional change. Arizona continues with a fraction of the COVID they had in July.

SC has been relatively flat for 6 weeks. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The Covid Tracking Project).

Here is Florida – down dramatically from the top, and fairly flat for a month. Same for Miami.

California has had a great recovery, but now flat for the past month. College testing? I think so, but don’t know for sure. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people.

Georgia is still doing pretty well. Flat for a couple of weeks, but no increases. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population, so I’d be surprised to see any real increases here. GA is now down 66% from the peak. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

Texas reported nearly 22,000 historical cases around September 23rd, and this skews the data. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).

NC and VA tend to track each other, but NC reported an additional 4,563 “probable” cases on September 25th, which skews the results upward inappropriately.

Here is the daily new case count for NC – you can see the anomaly. I should point out that this is not the fault of NC. They simply report the total each day, and the new totals are picked up by the reporting sites and catalogued as new.

Here is the daily death report for NC, flat for months now.

The COVID Tracking Project did a major revision of Washington data in late August, which created the sharp decline you see at the end of the month. It’s popped back up again, based on yet another change in the reporting protocol. These data aberrations have settled now, and we’re back seeing a bit of stability (until they change the protocol again!).

Here are NY and NJ – Significant percentage increases in both NY and NJ, albeit from small numbers.

Here is Massachusetts. Like NY, they have a significant percentage increase in active cases, but again, on top of a small base.

…And here is Michigan. As I expected, Michigan is growing again. They peaked at a very low 0.089% of the population, so have a way to go before hitting the population ceiling.

PA is also growing, as expected. The peak was very low (0.091% of the population), so I believe there is more to come.

And finally, here is Colorado, at a new peak. It’s still only 0.087% of the population, so more to come I’m afraid.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again in a week or so (longer if absolutely nothing changes).

The numbers are still very small as a percentage of the population. Unless you’re in a high density area, your chances of contracting COVID are very small. However, even though the probability is very small, you still don’t want to get it. Everyone please continue to be as cautious as you feel necessary.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

No Real Surge in Cases

COVID continues to proceed at a crawl. Nationally, modeled active cases are up about 29,000. This could be the bump I was expecting from extensive university testing, but it’s occurring a couple of weeks later than I anticipated. You all probably saw the news reports of a surge in new cases over the past 2 days, but this is quite misleading. Over this time period, Texas increased their total case count by 27,673 cases. However, 21,967 of these are old cases newly reported. To Texas’s credit, they did not report these as new cases, however, Johns Hopkins and The COVID Tracking Project did. Of the 27,673 cases, Texas reported 1,742 on Monday as new, and 3,964 today as new. Johns Hopkins seems to make no attempt to correct this sort of data, but The COVID Tracking Project does a pretty good job of it (but it takes some time). I think they’ll revise the Texas numbers sometime over the next week or so, but in the meantime I’ve corrected for this in my numbers.

IHME has revised their model again on September 18. They are now projecting that daily deaths peak on December 21, 2020 at 3,620 per day. However, they also model “universal mask usage”, and under that model the April 16, 2020 daily peak holds. I have no idea how their model is built, but they have been overestimating daily deaths for the past two months. In reality, we’ve observed a slow, but steady decline in daily deaths for 7 weeks now.

Testing continues at a high rate, and we set a new record 3 days ago of just a hair under 1,000,000 tests. In total, the U.S. has recorded over 93 million tests. The New York Times ran an article at the end of August where they suggest that the tests are too sensitive. In case you didn’t see it, here it is:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/29/health/coronavirus-testing.html

Here is the relevant quote: In three sets of testing data that include cycle thresholds, compiled by officials in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus, a review by The Times found.

I expect we’ll see more about this as time progresses.

Feel free to send me your questions about my assumptions, methodology, or modeling in general.

  • Modeled known active cases in U.S. 279,198
  • Likely date of active case peak (Chalke modeling): July 23
  • Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): December 21 (last revision on September 18)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 719,578 (high)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 7,999 (very low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 0.51% (very low)

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Daily Analysis

Here is the national picture. We’ve added about 29,000 cases in the past 9 days. I suspect this is the widespread asymptomatic testing in university settings, but haven’t analyzed it yet. One thing that puzzles me lately is the phenomenon where geographical areas will reach a low level of COVID prevalence, and, rather than continuing the decline, it remains stationary. Will this ultimately be like the common cold (another Coronavirus), where a certain percentage of the population always has it?

Look at the daily new cases. We’re looking at a slow but steady decline since mid-July.

 

The daily death count is exhibiting a very slow decline for the better part of two months now. Here is the picture:

The decline is slow, and not particularly obvious on the above graph, but if we isolate the last 7 weeks, and show the regression line, it’s easier to see.

On to the states.

Here is Arizona. They reported a large increase in cases on Sep 17 and 18. This was a result of a change in reporting protocol, where they are now adding the results of antigen testing. As always with a change in protocol, this bump will flatten back down in a week or so.

SC has been relatively flat for nearly 3 weeks. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The COVID Tracking Project).

Here is Florida – down dramatically from the top, but little progress in the past 2 weeks.

California has had a great recovery, but now flat for the past week. College testing? I think so, but don’t know for sure. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people.

Georgia is also flat for a week now. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population, so I’d be surprised to see any real increases here. GA is now down 55% from the peak. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

Texas had a significant increase a week ago, but is already starting to decline. As I discussed above, Texas reported 21,967 historical cases over the past 2 days. I removed them for purposes of my analysis, but they will eventually show up in the historical data, increasing modeled active cases at some point in the past. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).

NC and VA tend to track each other. No real progress in the past week in either state, but I predict NC will fall further soon, based on day to day new case reports.

Here is the daily death report for NC, flat for 2 months.

And here is the daily new case count for NC. A noticeable drop from the peak in mid-July, and then 5 or 6 data points above the trend line in late August, then declining again. Based on this, we should see daily deaths in NC decline soon.

The COVID Tracking Project did a major revision of Washington data in late August, which created the sharp decline you see at the end of the month. It’s popped back up again, based on yet another change in the reporting protocol. These data aberrations have settled now, and we’re back seeing a decline.

Here are NY and NJ – I think the interesting observation here is that even though both states peaked very early and recovered rapidly, they don’t seem to make much progress once cases get to a low level. It seems asymptotic. It makes me wonder if the course of this disease is to simmer indefinitely at low levels.

Here is Massachusetts. On September 2, Massachusetts changed their case definition to the more restrictive August 6 definition released by the CTSE. As a result, they removed a whopping 7,000 cases in a single day. Since my model only showed about 2,500 cases at that time, this dislocation sent my model into negative territory. I zeroed it out, but this shows the problems with trying to model from continually shifting data definitions. This highlights the dire need for national standards on data collection and reporting. Where is the CDC? In any event, there is not much COVID in Massachusetts.

…And here is Michigan. Michigan peaked at a very low 0.089% of the population, so may continue to grow if my theory is correct. Nonetheless, MI has been relatively flat for 2 months now.

PA has been pretty flat for over 2 months. I believe PA has more growth to come, as the peak was very low (0.091% of the population).

And finally, here is Colorado. Modeled active cases have nearly doubled since my last report. I have no idea why, but have built up a healthy mistrust of Colorado data based on their many revisions and changes in protocol.

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

The numbers are still very small as a percentage of the population. Unless you’re in a high density area, your chances of contracting COVID are very small. However, even though the probability is very small, you still don’t want to get it. Everyone please continue to be as cautious as you feel necessary.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

Known active cases fall over 40,000 since my last report

It’s been two weeks since I reported last, and overall, nearly everything has improved. WA, VA, and MI are flat, but all other states I track are in solid decline or have already reached very low numbers. Nationally, I’m modeling that we’ve shed over 40,000 known active cases since my last report. A surprise to me, there has been little impact from the flurry of campus testing as the school year begins. We’re seeing the slowest case growth in the history of the pandemic. With the continued relaxing of social and business restrictions, I find this continued decline encouraging.

On the negative side, the latest IHME model projects peak daily deaths on December 3, at about 2,880 per day. However, they did project steadily rising deaths over the past month, but in reality we’ve seen a slow decline. I’ll keep watching it and report changes to their model.

Feel free to send me your questions about my assumptions, methodology, or modeling in general.

  • Modeled known active cases in U.S. 249,082
  • Likely date of active case peak (Chalke modeling): July 23
  • Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): December 3 (last revision on September 3)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 614,042 (high)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 10,530 (low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 0.59% (very low)

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Daily Analysis

Here is the national picture. We’ve dropped over 219,000 known active cases since the peak of July 23rd, and over 40,000 since my last report. Overall, we’re down 53% since the peak. We’re not far off April levels. I think we’ll get there by the end of the month.

Look at the daily new cases. We’re looking at a steady linear decline since mid-July, and again, nearly at April levels.

The daily death count is exhibiting a very slow decline for a month now. Here is the picture:

On to the states.

Here is Arizona, now down 89% from the peak 2 months ago. I’m modeling that Arizona has only about 3,000 known active cases left.

SC is now down 64% from the peak. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The COVID Tracking Project).

Here is Florida – now down an amazing 79% from the top. I’m guessing that bump beginning on September 1 and falling back down on September 8 is college testing.

Here is California – now down 63% from the peak, and back where they were in late June. I’m still not confident there won’t be more localized peaks here, with California maxing out at only 0.18% of the population. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people.

Georgia continues to make strong progress. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population, so I’m thinking that this is it. GA is now down 55% from the peak. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

Texas is now down 64% from the peak on July 23. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).

NC and VA have tended to mirror each other since mid-June. However, NC is now down 40% from its high while VA is down 18%. Both VA and NC are about where they were a month ago. NC went into Phase 2.5 last Friday, which means gyms and some other businesses may now open.

Here is the daily death report for NC, flat for 6 weeks now. I expect a decline in daily deaths soon, as the active case count is declining.

And here is the daily new case count for NC. A noticeable drop from the peak in mid-July, and then 5 or 6 data points above the trend line in late August. I’m thinking that this could have been college testing, as NC schools start so early in the year, but I don’t know.

The COVID Tracking Project just did a major revision of Washington data in late August, which created the sharp decline you see at the end of the month. It’s popped back up again, based on yet another change in the reporting protocol. I’ll look into it if I have time, or maybe just wait until the COVID Tracking Project folks fix it.

Here are NY and NJ – I think the interesting observation here is that even though both states peaked very early and recovered rapidly, they don’t seem to make much progress once cases get to a low level. It seems asymptotic. It makes me wonder if the course of this disease is to simmer indefinitely at low levels.

Here is Massachusetts. On September 2, Massachusetts changed their case definition to the more restrictive August 6 definition released by the CTSE. As a result, they removed a whopping 7,000 cases in a single day. Since my model only showed about 2,500 cases at that time, this dislocation sent my model into negative territory. I zeroed it out, but this shows the problems with trying to model from continually shifting data definitions. This highlights the dire need for national standards on data collection and reporting. Where is the CDC? In any event, there is not much COVID in Massachusetts.

…And here is Michigan. Michigan peaked at a very low 0.089% of the population, so may continue to grow if my theory is correct. Nonetheless, MI has been relatively flat for a good 6 weeks now.

PA has been pretty flat for the past 2 months. I believe PA has more growth to come, as the peak was very low (0.091% of the population).

And finally, here is Colorado. A sharp drop over August, and then fairly flat since. Colorado is now down to about 1,900 known active cases. Very small numbers here.

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

The numbers are still very small as a percentage of the population. Unless you’re in a high density area, your chances of contracting COVID are very small. However, even though the probability is very small, you still don’t want to get it. Everyone please continue to be as cautious as you feel necessary.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

Categories
COVID Archives

Looks like minimal impact from college testing so far…

When I reported last week, I was expecting a bump in active cases this week from the ubiquitous testing at universities as the semester begins. So far, however, we’re not seeing it. Not only has the case count not risen, there is no spike in testing volume. Some schools are doing universal testing, some are testing all students moving into dorms, and some are only testing symptomatic students. Some schools are reporting tests and positives each day, and some (Like Arizona State University) aren’t reporting any data. I did a quick search earlier this week and found snippets of data – I combined this with reports sent to me by readers of this report, and have this:

This is VERY unscientific – just a few that come up on a quick google search – but the numbers are smaller than I was expecting. I’m modeling known active cases in the United States right now at 289,000, or about 0.09% of the population. If we hit that with a prevalence to known case ratio of 10, we get 0.9%. I was expecting college students to be higher than this, given their elevated socializing. However, the numbers in this admittedly ragtag data set is smaller than that. I wish I had 25 researchers – we could learn a great deal digging into the college testing. We’ll just have to watch and see what happens. In any event, if we have a positive rate of 0.5%, that would still be 100,000 extra cases across the 20 million college students in the U.S. Of course, I believe most universities are not testing the entire student body – they can’t be – we’re not seeing that kind of lift in total tests reported. In any event, an increase in college age cases will have a negligible impact on the daily death count, since people that age have a near zero mortality rate from the disease.

I’ve been writing about targeted, rather than blanket, restrictions on social mobility since I did my first mortality calculations in April. I’ve long thought that the correct public policy would be to protect those demographic groups with the highest COVID mortality rates, but let working age people continue to participate in the economy. I think this is likely what is happening naturally, and now it is making its way into the mainstream. Here is a good article from Monday’s Wall St. Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-lockdowns-economy-pandemic-recession-business-shutdown-sweden-coronavirus-11598281419?mod=djemalertNEWS

Feel free to send me your questions about my assumptions, methodology, or modeling in general.

  • Likely date of active case peak (Chalke modeling): July 23
  • Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): April 16 (last revision on August 21)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 742,340 (very high)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 11,168 (low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 0.76% (very low)

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Daily Analysis

Here is the national picture. We’ve dropped over 179,000 known active cases since the peak of July 23rd. That’s a 38% decline, and puts us back where we were in late June. I was expecting a rise this week as the wave of college-based tests moves through the data, but we’re not seeing it yet. Perhaps over the next week as students in the northeast make their way back to campus, but so far, we don’t even have a bump in testing volume – that’s curious to me.

Look at the daily new cases. We’re looking at a steady and welcome decline since mid-July.

The daily death count is flat for about a month now, with an inkling of decline over the past two weeks. Here is the picture:

Here are the daily deaths per 1,000 known active cases. This disease is far less deadly than it was in April, when deaths per active case were far higher. The gradual rise is a result of daily deaths lagging the dropping case count by 2-3 weeks.

On to the states.

Here is Arizona, now down 86% from the peak just 7 weeks ago. I’m modeling that Arizona has less than 4,000 known active cases left.

SC is also looking far better than a month ago. SC is now down 61% from the peak. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The COVID Tracking Project).

Here is Florida – another very rapid recovery. There is still a lot of COVID in Florida (I model over 23,000 known active cases), but far less than the 83,000 cases at the peak. Florida is now down an amazing 72% from the top.

Here is California – now down 44% from the peak, and back where they were in late June. I’m still not confident there won’t be more localized peaks here, with California maxing out at only 0.18% of the population. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people.

Georgia continues to make progress. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population, so I’m thinking that this is it. GA is now down 37% from the peak. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

Texas is now down 49% from the peak about a month ago. Not as smooth or dramatic a recovery as Florida or Arizona. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).

NC has had a pronounced rise over the past week (over 2,000 cases), but it looks like we’re past that bubble now, as the daily case count has been falling for 6 days (except for today). Based on that, I expect this to turn around over the next few days. Virginia shows a sharp drop today, but that’s because they didn’t report numbers today (this happens once in a while in VA). VA will pop back up tomorrow.

Here is the daily death report for NC, flat for a month, and now showing early signs of decline.

And here is the daily new case count for NC. A noticeable drop from the peak in mid-July, and then 2 or 3 data points above the trend line over the past week. I’m thinking that this could be college testing, as NC schools start so early in the year, but I don’t know.

The COVID Tracking Project just did a major revision of Washington data, placing cases back on the proper dates. We now see a new picture of Washington which looks much better. This is a 79% decline from the peak. With the messy data last week, we showed a much smaller 41% decline. This is a great illustration of how newly discovered historical cases reported as new can skew the data, making things look much worse than they are.

Here are NY and NJ – I think the interesting observation here is that even though both states peaked very early and recovered rapidly, they don’t seem to make much progress once cases get to a low level. It seems asymptotic. It makes me wonder if the course of this disease is to simmer indefinitely at low levels.

Here is Massachusetts. Similar to NY and NJ, it continues to simmer along in a stationary fashion. There are few active cases, but as fast as they recover, an equal number of new cases are reported.

…And here is Michigan. Michigan peaked at a very low 0.089% of the population, so may continue to grow if my theory is correct. Nonetheless, MI has been relatively flat for a month now.

PA has been dropping steadily for 4 weeks not. However, I believe PA has more growth to come, as the peak was very low (0.091% of the population).

And finally, here is Colorado. A sharp drop over the past month. Colorado has declined about 50% over this time period, and is now down to about 2,000 known active cases. Very small numbers here.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again on Monday or Tuesday.

The numbers are still very small as a percentage of the population. Unless you’re in a high density area, your chances of contracting COVID are very small. However, even though the probability is very small, that doesn’t help if you’re the one catching it. Everyone please continue to be as cautious as you feel necessary.

–Shane Chalke, FSA

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COVID Archives

What will college testing do to the data?

Nationally, we’re still seeing a consistent and steady decline in known active cases. Over the last 6 days, we’ve dropped an average of just over 9,000 active cases per day. Florida, Arizona, Colorado, and South Carolina have been dropping particularly fast, but lately we’ve seen a lot of improvement in California as well. At this rate, I expect us to be down to April known active case levels by mid-September.

We have nearly 20 million college students returning to school from mid-August to Labor Day, and many schools are implementing universal testing for COVID. I don’t know what percentage of students will be tested, but I’m expecting to see a rise in cases over the next week as these tests are reported, and then a decline the week after. I’ve had reports from some schools in the sub 1% positivity rate – if any of you have information about various school stats please send them to me. We have very little data on entire sub-populations being tested, so this is a rare chance to learn more about total prevalence. In any event, the college populations being tested have a very low average age (even with faculty and staff in the mix), so these cases will have a negligible impact on the daily death count, since college age people have a near zero mortality rate.

I’ve been talking a lot about herd immunity, and how a significant population level of innate resistance to COVID would explain the data we’re seeing. I’m no expert in disease, but I’ve latched on to this idea because it’s the only explanation on the table for why this disease peaks at such low numbers. Here is a piece from Bloomberg news last week, which talks about scientists rethinking herd immunity based on T-Cell cross reactivity with the common cold. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-08-13/covid-spread-is-forcing-scientists-to-rethink-herd-immunity Yes, it IS an opinion piece, but it checks a lot of boxes for me and I thought you might find it interesting.

In other news, the IHME model updated today. They are projecting deaths along 3 scenarios out to December 1st: universal masks, current projection, and all mandates easing. You can see it here: https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america

FYI, I pinned last Sunday’s discussion of Sweden’s results to the bottom of this report.

Feel free to send me your questions about my assumptions, methodology, or modeling in general.

  • Likely date of active case peak (Chalke modeling): July 23
  • Likely date of peak deaths (IHME): April 16 (last revision on August 21)
  • Total Test Results reported today: 756,105 (very high)
  • Total Pending tests reported today: 4,199 (extremely low)
  • National reported case Growth Rate today: 0.85% (very low)

Shane Chalke Interviews

https://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorial-unlock-demographically-not-geographically/article_a62e6e70-dccd-51cf-b7b2-16d77a90fd9c.html

Website

Groom Ventures has agreed to host a website that will archive my daily reports, and supplement with other commentary. John Groom worked at one of my companies back in the day, and is an excellent writer. The website is: www.howmuchrisk.com For those of you that post my daily report on Facebook, let me suggest you link to this site, as the direct Facebook posts don’t seem to copy the graphs.

Daily Analysis

Here is the national picture. We’ve dropped about 155,000 known active cases since the peak of July 23rd. That’s a 33% decline, and puts us back where we were in early July. I expect to see a rise over the next week of perhaps 25,000 cases, as the wave of college-based tests moves through the data. However, I think that bubble is all over by the week after. I hope I’m wrong on the first part and right on the second.

Look at the daily new cases. We’re looking at a broad pattern of decline since mid-July.

The daily death count is flat for about a month now. I expect a gradual decline beginning this coming week. Here is the picture:

Here are the daily deaths per 1,000 known active cases. This disease is far less deadly than it was in April, when deaths per active case were 4 – 5 times higher. If we get a lot of college driven tests in the coming week, this number will decline.

On to the states.

Here is Arizona, now down 80% from the peak just 6 weeks ago. To put this in perspective, I model that Arizona now has less COVID than Virginia.

SC also continues to improve. SC is now down 59% from the peak. Note that South Carolina double counts cases, as they treat each positive test as a new case (per The COVID Tracking Project).

Here is Florida – another strong recovery story. Interestingly, I noticed Miami flattening first, but Miami is not declining as fast as the rest of the state. Florida is now down an amazing 64% from the top.

Now, California – what a difference a week makes. California has dropped 27% in 6 days! However, since California peaked at only 0.18% of the population, I’m thinking there is more to come here. On the other hand, Sweden peaked at a much lower percentage, as they had a quite high prevalence to reported ratio. That could be happening here. As always, I need to report that California is one of the states that counts tests rather than people.

Georgia’s recovery is accelerating lately. Georgia hit a high of 0.25% of the population, so I’m thinking that they did peak on July 24th. GA is now down 32% from the peak. Note here again, the case numbers are exaggerated. Georgia counts each positive test as a case (according to The COVID Tracking Project).

Texas is also a slower recovery than Florida or Arizona. Note that Texas also reports positive tests as cases, so is doing some level of double counting (per The COVID Tracking Project).

NC has been steadily declining for over a month, but now is up for the past 4 days. I’m hoping this is an anomaly, or perhaps a result of college testing, as NC schools start very early.

Here is the daily death report for NC, flat for nearly a month now. I’m expecting this to begin a definitive decline this week, based on the drop in daily new case count.

And here is the daily new case count for NC. A noticeable drop from the peak in mid-July.

Washington is now down 41% from the peak on July 19th. I’m skeptical about this, as the high water mark you see here is at just 0.087% of the population. However, that peak is now over a month old, so that’s hopeful.

Here are NY and NJ – hard to see since the numbers are small, but NJ has had quite a drop lately, down to about 1,600 cases.

Here is Massachusetts. That bump you see on August 19th is a result of a new procedure in Massachusetts for reporting “probable” cases. Here is the quote from The COVID Tracking Project:

“On August 12, MA began reporting probable cases weekly, not daily. This can lead to apparent spikes in the data when the weekly numbers are incorporated, as happened on August 19.”

So it looks like we’ll see a little spike of probably cases every Wednesday.

…And here is Michigan. Michigan peaked at a very low 0.089% of the population, so may continue to grow if my theory is correct. Nonetheless, MI has been relatively flat for a month now. Big drop in the past few days, though.

PA has been dropping for 3 weeks. However, I believe PA has more growth to come, as the peak was very low (0.091% of the population).

And finally, here is Colorado. A sharp drop over the past 3 weeks. Colorado has declined 53% over this time period, and is now down to 2,000 known active cases. Very small numbers here.

So that’s it for today. I’ll report again in a few days.

The numbers are still very small as a percentage of the population. Unless you’re in a high density area, your chances of contracting COVID are very small. However, even though the probability is very small, that doesn’t help if you’re the one catching it. Everyone please continue to be as cautious as you feel necessary.

–Shane Chalke, FSA