Covid-19 5/29: Dumb Reopening

by Zvi Don't Worry About the Vase1 min read29th May 2020No comments

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Previous Editions: Covid 5/14: Limbo UnderCovid-19 5/7: Fighting LimboCovid-19 4/30: Stuck in LimboMy Covid-19 Thinking: 4/23 pre-Cuomo Data

I remember when people on Twitter had constant reminders that today was, indeed, only Wednesday, or whatever day it happened to be. Time moved that slowly.

Time has sped up again. It has been two weeks since my last Covid-19 post, and that’s because I didn’t feel there was much new to say. There aren’t new developments. People are acting the way you’d expect them to act, the numbers are continuing on their trend lines.

The question is, will it be good enough? Did we win? Will there be a second wave soon as we open things up?

So far, the news is mostly good. But not great. Let’s see the numbers.

The Numbers

New positive tests by region:

Date WEST MIDWEST SOUTH NE ex-NY NY
Mar 19-Mar 25 5744 6293 7933 8354 28429
Mar 26-Apr 1 15684 20337 24224 34391 52901
Apr 2-8 19455 31148 39618 56772 65604
Apr 9-15 16291 29267 35570 61921 64463
Apr 16-22 20065 34130 33932 64669 43437
Apr 23-29 21873 42343 33773 62189 42475
Apr 30-May 6 23424 49205 37880 51693 24287
May 7-May 13 22615 43256 37591 40209 16683
May 14-May 20 22913 42762 40343 39273 13709
May 21-May 27 24104 39418 42977 28336 10595

Deaths by region:

WEST MIDWEST SOUTH NE ex-NY NY
Mar 19-Mar 25 116 67 111 84 203
Mar 26-Apr 1 347 477 502 454 1340
Apr 2-8 639 1335 1215 1783 3939
Apr 9-15 895 2106 1472 3261 5345
Apr 16-22 1008 2369 1730 5183 3994
Apr 23-29 1135 2500 1684 4285 2810
Apr 30-May 6 991 2413 1737 5349 2007
May 7-May 13 1044 2344 1679 4014 ~1500
May 14-May 20 1091 2071 1448 3712 998
May 21-May 27 823 1694 1276 2430 721

Positive test rates:

Date USA tests Positive % NY tests Positive %
Mar 19-Mar 25 347,577 16.2% 88,882 32.0%
Mar 26-Apr 1 728,474 20.2% 117,401 45.1%
Apr 2-8 1,064,225 19.8% 144,273 45.5%
Apr 9-15 1,026,741 20.4% 160,859 40.1%
Apr 16-22 1,235,393 16.1% 143,970 30.2%
Apr 23-29 1,552,560 13.0% 202,499 21.0%
Apr 30-May 6 1,759,548 10.6% 183,446 13.2%
May 7-May 13 2,153,748 7.5% 202,980 8.2%
May 14-May 20 2,643,333 6.0% 246,929 5.6%
May 21-May 27 2,584,265 5.7% 305,708 3.5%

New York continues to improve. Some time in this past week, I believe New York became a safer than average place in terms of forward looking infection risk, with yesterday’s positive rate down to 2.7%, and my best guess for today being only 5,000 infections statewide. That’s down 96% from my estimate of the peak infection rate.

The rest of the Northeast also is seeing clear improvement.

Alas, the rest of the nation is looking more mixed. The death rates continue to improve, but that only tells us that things were good weeks ago. The third week of May is clearly an improvement on test results across regions, as the increase in tests run makes up for the positive counts.

The fourth week is troubling. With the reopening well underway, we see the West and South moving backwards, while the Midwest is on the edge. With activity only increasing, and with the added danger of civil unrest, it seems plausible that three of our four major regions are headed in the wrong direction.

This could easily be a blip. The changes are not that big. It also might not be a blip.

Our testing outside of New York is also going in the wrong direction. Hopefully this is due to the disruption of Memorial Day weekend, and we’ll continue to see improvements going forward.

Narratives of a sudden huge spike were never on the table. People aren’t radically adjusting their behaviors all at once and returning to how things were before. People are slowly adopting to a new normal. If that new normal is insufficient to contain Covid-19, we’ll know it because we see a slow uptick a week after the adjustments get too aggressive.

There was another adjustment made on Memorial Day. The results of that should be visible in a few days time. A lot of the additional activity is outdoors, which is relatively safe. But there was also almost certainly a rise in social gatherings indoors as well, and that is the most unsafe thing out there right now.

I hope the dumb reopening succeeds and we can avoid a second wave and the economy can begin to recover without a lot more people first having to die. Certainly things up until this recent blip are going about as well as one might reasonably have hoped.

I’ve split off my more detailed current thoughts into another draft that I hope to have ready in a day or two.

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