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Every time I see one of these apocalyptic exponential projections based on a “doubling of the death rate every two days,” or whatever the current numbers suggest, I want to slap someone. At the moment, and for the next week or so at least, the death count is a trailing indicator of contagion.
It appears to take, on average, from about ten days to two weeks between infection with the Wuhan virus and subsequent death. That suggests that today’s death figures are a proxy for the rate of infection ten days to two weeks ago.
Ten days ago the schools were open, businesses were open, theaters were open, bars were open, colleges were open, and America was going about its business with little concern of infection. Unless one believes that our subsequent efforts have had little effect, one must assume that the rate of new infection has dropped off substantially. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which it hasn’t, outside of one or two super-dense metropolitan areas.
Today’s death figures are an echo of conditions that no longer exist. This will be true for another few days, after which time the death figures will begin to reflect actions begun ten days ago.
I am pretty sure that the nation has never shifted its approach to interpersonal contact as profoundly and abruptly as it did last week. Today’s death figures can barely reflect that. Look at the numbers toward the end of this week. I’m expecting a good Friday report.Published in