There’s no doubt about it. At this point – looking on the past 7 weeks – we see a strong upswing in COVID cases across America since Labor Day. Right now the daily average of new cases is very close to the peaks recorded 3 weeks after July 4th celebrations.
Lets use Florida as a smaller example. On September 28th – Florida lifted all COVID restrictions. At the time I reported that this was declaring victory too early: After the restrictions eased – there was a short period of further reduction – but now cases have risen again. Daily cases now are about 30% higher than when the restrictions were lifted. It doesn’t take a genius to see the cause an effect here.
In Florida – Fatalities are still to high. These are an average of 4 people per million per day – or to state directly – 87 people per day are dying of covid.
Back to the US view
One positive piece of news at the US level is that fatalities have not risen as quickly as cases. Perhaps this is a result of younger people getting the virus and having better success in fighting the virus. As you can see from the chart below – even though cases have increased by 75% since September 14th – fatalities have been in a relatively stable range of about 700 or so deaths per day. (Although that still is a lot).
Lets also take another look at the big numbers:
- Over 8 million cases of COVID since inception in the US
- Almost 220,000 deaths
- Approximately 6.5 million people recovered from COVID
At this point – we’ve seen every region of the US get hit by COVID. Initially it was the costal areas; then the sunbelt. Now we have the mid western states – which can be seen clearly in this chart of current fatality levels. North Dakota has been leading the fatality rate for some time now.
The Global Context: US #20 in new cases per capita
Bad as we may think the US is – many countries are much worse, including those who had seemingly fully addressed covid in the summer.
France, as an example, is now at 363 new cases per day, per million of population. That’s more than 2x the level of the US. 46 million people in France are now under nightly curfew. Here’s a look at the French numbers by month. Cases have never been higher… so far 370,000 new cases in October to date. Deaths are on pace to be 6x higher in October than they were in August.
Another observation from this chart is that the fatality rate continues to fall. This is obviously good news. Deaths in France in October to date, are less than 10% of the deaths recorded in April.
Avoiding US politics: Its a global issue after all
Its difficult to avoid the political perspective of COVID in the US. But here’s the key fact – COVID seems tougher than ever to fully eradicate – across the globe. The reality now has to turn to ‘living with COVID’ – as surely the prospects of putting this genie back in the bottle seems virtually impossible at this time. Seems hard for me to accept the blame game here – when so many countries, with many different leaders, and different responses are in the same, or worse position than the US.
Who expected that at this point (Oct 23rd) – so many countries would be in this position? Back in July it looked like Europe has fixed the problem and the US was lagging. Now we see this as a global issue. Likely driven by a global increase in ‘pandemic fatigue’. People across the world have simply had enough, even though the virus remains as strong as ever in its ability to spread.
What we’ve learned at this point is that full lockdowns are enormously costly. That said – the Florida approach of lifting all restrictions is simply too lax. The sensible cautions of mask wearing, social distancing etc are those that we can all take to control this.
France shows the next step – CURFEWS – when COVID gets further out of control. We may not be there yet – but I would much rather shut down nightclubs and bars – than run the risk of returning to home schooling.
A NYT article today acknowledged that returning to school has not been the super spreader risk that we all feared. I am truly thankful for that. This shows that an important area of community and economy can function – as long as sensible protocols are taken.
There’s a limited number of countries who really figured this out, a likely most of these were better prepared due largely to previous bad virus experiences (MERS) – these include China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia and Australia. Next time around the globe needs a much better response.
It seems that a lot of our hope is resting on getting a vaccine. That, and the currently declining level of fatalities means that its increasingly likely that we’ll be stuck in this range of cases for some time.