It is always interesting to look at statistics and try to interpret trends. Today, Johns Hopkins published the following numbers for US COVID infections and deaths.
Deaths continue to fall, but interestingly at a time when most are touting the rise in infections, Hopkins’ figures show an 18% drop. This seems to fly in the face of what is happening in several states, and could be because these states are a minority (of the 50), or the recent rise in infections is peaking. But another issue may be in play here.
The fine print says this data is the result of 3 day averages. This means it included the end of the holiday weekend, a time when result reporting is notoriously reduced. Therefore, the drop in total infections may be a reporting artifact, and we need to follow it closely over the next week.
It is important to note that the Rt for most states is still over one, indicating a continued spread of the virus. These numbers look identical to two weeks ago, so the rate of spread has not changed.
It is interesting that the death rate has become an issue of debate, because it is decreasing! Politicians argued whether or not it was a good thing to celebrate (it is, but certainly in a muted way) and several reasons were put forward for this fall including younger patients being infected or sick COVID patients getting better care. Some hypothesize that the deaths are merely delayed after the recent rise in infections. Many random doctors were asked on the news if they believed death rates would increase and all replied yes, but offered no reason.
What is clear is the no one really knows why the death rate is lower. This is something that the CDC should be aggressively investigating. They need to find the exact cause for the continued fall and make sure it does not reverse itself!
The next week will start to tell us if the infection clusters in large, mainly southern cities are starting to wane or are progressing into something worse.