Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Coronavirus Update: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

 

Monday was the worst day thus far of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the US and Western Europe.

In the US, 511 deaths were reported Monday, March 30, the highest death toll on a single day. This follows 372 reported on Friday, 445 on Saturday, and 441 Sunday. Total deaths in the US stands at 2,978.

It is far worse in Western Europe, which reported 2,769 deaths Monday, also the highest death toll on a single day. This follows 2,546 on Friday, 2,661 on Saturday, and 2,488 on Sunday. Total deaths in Western Europe stands at 26,699.

It was also the worst day for the US in new cases reported, 20,921. It was the fourth worst day for Western Europe in new cases reported, 29,001.

That’s the worst of times part. We have a difficult time ahead of us.

So how is ol’ Giordano going to find a silver lining in this black cloud? Because there is good news, but you have to look carefully to find it.

The good news is in the reduction in the rate of growth of both new cases and deaths.

I have two new charts for you, which will look almost identical, showing the decline in the rate of growth of reported deaths and reported cases. These charts show a significant decline in the rate of growth over the past two days. Each chart compares four figures, for the US and the biggest five Western European countries:

  1. The average daily growth rate for March 20-24.
  2. The average daily growth rate for March 25-28.
  3. The daily growth rate for Sunday, March 29.
  4. The daily growth rate for Monday, March 30.

First, the decline in the growth rate of reported COVID-19 deaths:

The trend is downward in every country. France did have a modest increase Monday compared to Sunday, but both figures are well below the growth rate on the preceding eight days.

This is a very encouraging trend. It does not mean that we are out of the woods, by any account.

One more note on the death toll. The latest IHME projection (here, though it will probably be updated shortly) shows the actual death count through yesterday (2,457), but projected a death count total of 3,064 for today (range 3,014-3,116). This means that as of Sunday, the IHME projected 607 deaths in the US today (range 557-659). The actual report was 511 deaths.

This means that we were about 16% below the IHME projection after one day, and more than 8% below the IHME’s low estimate. After one day.

I happen to have saved the IHME projection as of four days ago (March 27). Their projection for Monday was 660 deaths. Again, the actual was 511.

Projection is difficult. It will be very important to see whether this projection holds up over time. So far, not so good.

The decline in the growth rate of reported cases is shown in the following chart:

Once again, you can see the consistent decline in the rate of increase for reported cases, with some minor daily variation in Germany, France, and Spain. The figures for Italy are particularly encouraging.

That’s the best of times part. The rate of growth is decreasing significantly, for both reported cases and deaths. The death toll for the US, in particular, is well below the IHME projections that were made mere days ago, even Sunday.

There is no guarantee that favorable trends will continue, but I hope you will agree that I found that silver lining.

ChiCom delenda est.

Published in Healthcare
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  1. Weeping Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…: There is no guarantee that favorable trends will continue, but I hope you will agree that I found that silver lining.

    Thank you, Jerry. I appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears you must put into these updates. I’m sure others do too. They’re just more sensible than I am and are sleeping at the moment. :)

    • #1
    • March 30, 2020, at 11:09 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    In a week we should start seeing a lot of reports on the success/failure of hydroxychloroquine with Z-pack. It is hard to measure hospitalizations avoided, but we should get word from doctors in NY on whether it is helping.

    • #2
    • March 31, 2020, at 6:42 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…:

    Because there is good news, but you have to look carefully to find it.

    And unfortunately, the media don’t seem interested in doing that work. Here in central NC, yesterday the local media were sounding alarms about the fact that our total number of cases had doubled in a week. The thing is, one week ago, those same media outlets were reporting that the case count was doubling every two days. So in fact we’ve seen a significant slowdown, and yet all they seem able to see is the absolute number of cumulative total cases. That number is always going to look worse today than it did yesterday, at least until this thing is completely over.

    • #3
    • March 31, 2020, at 6:55 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…: There is no guarantee that favorable trends will continue, but I hope you will agree that I found that silver lining.

    Thank you, Jerry. I appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears you must put into these updates. I’m sure others do too. They’re just more sensible than I am and are sleeping at the moment. :)

    You’re welcome. It actually doesn’t involve any blood, sweat, or tears. There is a bit of toil involved, but only in the sense of time and attention. My only tools are keyboard and mouse. I actually enjoy crunching the numbers, as it gives me something moderately useful to do, though my principal motivation is to further my own understanding of the situation. The media does a very bad job of conveying numbers.

    • #4
    • March 31, 2020, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. M. Brandon Godbey Member

    I suppose that instead of saying:

    “The amount of people with COVID-19…”

    We should really say: 

    “The amount of sick people that tested positive for COVID-19…”

    Right?

    One of the primary issues we have going forward is that we have no clue how many people are walking around with COVID-19 but have little to no symptoms. Plus, we have no antibody test to see how many people have already had it with no symptoms or simply wrote it off as the flu or a cold. If we could begin to get some kind of idea of the actual number of positive cases, we can make well-informed decisions regarding how lethal the virus is, how many hospital beds we really need, and when people can get back to work.

    • #5
    • March 31, 2020, at 9:16 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    M. Brandon Godbey (View Comment):

    I suppose that instead of saying:

    “The amount of people with COVID-19…”

    We should really say:

    “The amount of sick people that tested positive for COVID-19…”

    Right?

    One of the primary issues we have going forward is that we have no clue how many people are walking around with COVID-19 but have little to no symptoms. Plus, we have no antibody test to see how many people have already had it with no symptoms or simply wrote it off as the flu or a cold. If we could begin to get some kind of idea of the actual number of positive cases, we can make well-informed decisions regarding how lethal the virus is, how many hospital beds we really need, and when people can get back to work.

    Good point, Brandon. I try to use the “reported cases” in my posts analyzing the numbers.

    • #6
    • March 31, 2020, at 10:50 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Unsk Member

    Good Work Jerry and Very Good News. We could use some. 

    • #7
    • March 31, 2020, at 11:10 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. Roderic Coolidge

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…: There is no guarantee that favorable trends will continue, but I hope you will agree that I found that silver lining.

    I agree. The curve is bending down at last, 5 days in a row now. Yesterday the rate of growth in Texas dipped to 3%. I hope this keeps up.

    • #8
    • March 31, 2020, at 11:19 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Weeping Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…: There is no guarantee that favorable trends will continue, but I hope you will agree that I found that silver lining.

    Thank you, Jerry. I appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears you must put into these updates. I’m sure others do too. They’re just more sensible than I am and are sleeping at the moment. :)

    You’re welcome. It actually doesn’t involve any blood, sweat, or tears. There is a bit of toil involved, but only in the sense of time and attention. My only tools are keyboard and mouse. I actually enjoy crunching the numbers, as it gives me something moderately useful to do, though my principal motivation is to further my own understanding of the situation. The media does a very bad job of conveying numbers.

    What? You’re not bleeding, sweating, or crying over these posts? Aw, Jerry, you disappoint me. ;)

    Seriously, I’m glad to hear all this number-crunching is something you enjoy doing. And I agree, the media isn’t doing a very good job of conveying the meaning of the numbers or the entire picture. At least they haven’t seemed to from the headline scanning I’ve been doing.

     

    • #9
    • March 31, 2020, at 11:52 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    The new antibody test should help identify those who have recovered and are immune.

    https://www.axios.com/fda-coronavirus-two-minute-testing-kit-bodysphere-a665429d-488d-4edf-bd36-9180e2a06e4c.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=organic&utm_content=1100&fbclid=IwAR0FOZFnzFSYoRiy8letCbTQ_dMnt237gml7Zdcv3kpWz4APFdwY76xgncA

     

    • #10
    • March 31, 2020, at 12:51 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Scott R Member
    Scott R Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    But here’s a puzzler, Jerry: While we’re recording fewer daily deaths than IHME projected after a mere three days, IHME just increased its total death count projection from 81,000 to 84,000. (?!)

    They interpret the “good” news merely as evidence that the peak will be later and the outbreak longer.

    Heads, the virus wins; tails, we lose.

    Personally I choose to believe that good news is possible.

    • #11
    • March 31, 2020, at 1:42 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Weeping Member

    Scott R (View Comment):

    But here’s a puzzler, Jerry: While we’re recording fewer daily deaths than IHME projected after a mere three days, IHME just increased its total death count projection from 81,000 to 84,000. (?!)

    They interpret the “good” news merely as evidence that the peak will be later and the outbreak longer.

    Heads, the virus wins; tails, we lose.

    Personally I choose to believe that good news is possible.

    This is huge part of what’s bugging me in a nutshell. It seems like we’ve been hearing that things are going to peak in a week or two for a month now – a month! Maybe more. I realize the picture changes as we get more data; but eventually, it all starts to feel like someone’s dragging their feet and yelling, “Wolf!” (I’m not saying that that’s definitely what’s happening. I’m simply saying it feels like it.) And I’m beginning to wonder how many times can we be expected to hear “Wolf!” and take it seriously.

    • #12
    • March 31, 2020, at 2:41 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Scott R Member
    Scott R Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Scott R (View Comment):

    But here’s a puzzler, Jerry: While we’re recording fewer daily deaths than IHME projected after a mere three days, IHME just increased its total death count projection from 81,000 to 84,000. (?!)

    They interpret the “good” news merely as evidence that the peak will be later and the outbreak longer.

    Heads, the virus wins; tails, we lose.

    Personally I choose to believe that good news is possible.

    This is huge part of what’s bugging me in a nutshell. It seems like we’ve been hearing that things are going to peak in a week or two for a month now – a month! Maybe more. I realize the picture changes as we get more data; but eventually, it all starts to feel like someone’s dragging their feet and yelling, “Wolf!” (I’m not saying that that’s definitely what’s happening. I’m simply saying it feels like it.) And I’m beginning to wonder how many times can we be expected to hear “Wolf!” and take it seriously.

    Alas, a brutal number developing today. 630 and growing fast, with a couple more hours before reset. Gut punch.

    • #13
    • March 31, 2020, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Pablo Member

    As always, thanks for you work on putting this together, Jerry. Just wanted to share this piece of news I just saw on the UK’s Telegraph (most of it beyond paywall, but the headline says it all). 

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/31/coronavirus-deaths-quarter-higher-previously-reported-new-data/

    Last Saturday, I heard of a similar study on a Spanish radio program. A study from an University compared the “predicted” fatalities for Madrid for March 2020 to the ones actually recorded during the month and the difference was significantly higher that the reported number of deaths by COVID-19 (one would expect the discrepancy to be mostly due to the virus, although the fact that some hospitals in Madrid are being over run may explain some extra fatalities for other causes). In other words, I do not really know what to trust at this point.

    With regard to number of cases in Spain. For the region of Asturias (population 1 million) the newspapers are reporting about 4 times the number of cases being “followed” by health authorities (people with non-severe symptoms told to self-isolate, but that have not been tested) than actual positives. Considering that the government has utterly failed to ramp up testing in the country (plus other political motivations that I won’t elaborate here), is not a wild guess that actual cases in Spain are underreported by a factor of 4 or more…

    • #14
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Steven Seward Member

    M. Brandon Godbey (View Comment):

    I suppose that instead of saying:

    “The amount of people with COVID-19…”

    We should really say:

    “The amount of sick people that tested positive for COVID-19…”

    Right?

    One of the primary issues we have going forward is that we have no clue how many people are walking around with COVID-19 but have little to no symptoms. Plus, we have no antibody test to see how many people have already had it with no symptoms or simply wrote it off as the flu or a cold. If we could begin to get some kind of idea of the actual number of positive cases, we can make well-informed decisions regarding how lethal the virus is, how many hospital beds we really need, and when people can get back to work.

    If it is any help, the Covid tests in Northeast Ohio where Cleveland resides and is considered the “hot spot” in Ohio, are showing 3% positive for non-hospitalized patients who have been referred by a doctor. Testing of people who are already hospitalized for other reasons plus health-care providers who are considered at risk are coming up at 6% positive.

    If you look at the figures from this website showing all testing in the U.S., their tally would indicate a positive result rate of 17%, though I think they are possibly way behind in counting the number of negative tests. I know for a fact that they have been exceedingly short on reporting the negative tests in Ohio on past days.

    On your other point, the country of Iceland found through random testing that about 1/2 of infected persons show no symptoms at all. If this holds true, then we can expect to double the amount of confirmed infections to get a more accurate count.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/21/iceland-is-doing-science-50-of-people-with-covid-19-not-showing-symptoms-50-have-very-moderate-cold-symptoms/

    On your third point, we now do have an antibody test to determine if a person has been infected in the past. However it is not that simple because an antibody test requires chemical reagents that must be manufactured and packaged just like everything else, hence it could be some time before we can do widespread antibody testing.

    • #15
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:30 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Weeping Member

    Scott R (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Scott R (View Comment):

    But here’s a puzzler, Jerry: While we’re recording fewer daily deaths than IHME projected after a mere three days, IHME just increased its total death count projection from 81,000 to 84,000. (?!)

    They interpret the “good” news merely as evidence that the peak will be later and the outbreak longer.

    Heads, the virus wins; tails, we lose.

    Personally I choose to believe that good news is possible.

    This is huge part of what’s bugging me in a nutshell. It seems like we’ve been hearing that things are going to peak in a week or two for a month now – a month! Maybe more. I realize the picture changes as we get more data; but eventually, it all starts to feel like someone’s dragging their feet and yelling, “Wolf!” (I’m not saying that that’s definitely what’s happening. I’m simply saying it feels like it.) And I’m beginning to wonder how many times can we be expected to hear “Wolf!” and take it seriously.

    Alas, a brutal number developing today. 630 and growing fast, with a couple more hours before reset. Gut punch.

    630 what? I haven’t been paying attention to the headlines today.

    • #16
    • March 31, 2020, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Scott R Member
    Scott R Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Deaths today, Weeping. Now 719. Pretty sure that’s the final number, which unfortunately puts us back on the nasty-projection path. For another day at any rate.

    • #17
    • March 31, 2020, at 5:21 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. Weeping Member

    Scott R (View Comment):

    Deaths today, Weeping. Now 719. Pretty sure that’s the final number, which unfortunately puts us back on the nasty-projection path. For another day at any rate.

    Sigh. I suppose it’s to be expected though. Anyway, thanks for clarifying. I thought that’s probably what you were thinking; I just wanted to be sure.

     

    • #18
    • March 31, 2020, at 5:25 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    The economic pain might be with us longer than the ravages of the disease —

    6.6M job losses this week.

    3.3M last week.

    • #19
    • April 2, 2020, at 4:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like