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It’s been a long time since my last Coronavirus update. Both Western Europe and the US are experiencing a significant increase in the death toll. In Western Europe, it’s a second wave. In the US, it’s more like a third wave, though the second wave (in the summer) was pretty small.
Here is a graph of daily Covid deaths per million, for the US and Western Europe, showing a seven-day moving average. “Western Europe” is the 15 European countries west of the old Iron Curtain, down to little Luxembourg but excluding the micro-states.
As you can see, Western Europe (blue) had an earlier and higher peak, no second wave in the summer, and is having a second wave with a higher death rate than the US. The US had a small second wave in the summer, and is now in a third wave.
Here is the cumulative graph of total Covid deaths per million:
Overall, the US has a higher death rate from Covid than Western Europe. This may shift again, due to the current waves. US performance isn’t as bad as this graph might suggest, because the Western European average is pulled down by the happily low death rate, thus far, in Germany.
Here is a comparison of the cumulative deaths per million in the US and the biggest four Western European countries:
As you can see, the US death rate per capita is a bit lower than the UK, and Italy, and about equal to France. Germany’s unusually low death toll appears at the bottom.
Germany is having a winter wave, though, as are the other Western European countries. Here is the daily deaths graph for the same five countries, again showing the seven-day moving average:
The UK, Italy, and France all had much higher spikes between March and May than the US, but none of these four Western European countries had a summer wave. You can see that the winter wave in the UK, Italy, and France are considerably worse than in the US, and that Germany’s Covid death toll is rising like it never did before (though it still remains lower than the others).
I have a hypothesis about the summer wave in the US. There are doubtless many factors involved, but it may be principally a matter of weather. The first wave in the US was heavily concentrated in the New York City area. The summer wave seems to have occurred principally in the hot states — particularly Texas, Florida, and Arizona. The winter wave in the US appears to be occurring in the cold states.
To test this hypothesis, I calculated daily Covid deaths per million (seven-day moving average) for the following regions of the US:
- The NYC area — New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut
- The Sun Belt — Texas, Florida, and Arizona
- The Frozen North — Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota
- The rest of the country
Here is the graph:
The big green spike is New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which have had low death rates since around July 1. The red line is Texas, Florida, and Arizona, and you can see that there was a summer hump in July and August. The cold states — Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, the blue line — had a modest first wave, low death figures through the summer, and have now increased significantly. The overall rate for the entire country is the yellow line, and the rest of the country is the purple line (which is a bit hard to read, but doesn’t vary as much).
That’s all for my analysis. I know that many of us have been annoyed by increased Covid precautions and mandates in many areas. The city of Tucson has actually imposed a 10 pm curfew starting tonight — though happily, I live a bit outside the city proper, so it won’t have much of an effect on me. There’s an exception for travel to work, anyway.
Hang in there, everyone, especially those in cold country like the good Mr. Lileks. It looks like the vaccine should be rolling out soon.
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