Looking at today’s numbers, it is pretty clear what has happened in the nation as a whole and in Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
While deaths are now rising in all three states, the infection rate has started to drop in Arizona. Since this was the first state where deaths rose (which has to be about 10-14 days after infections), Arizona appears to be at a later point in the infection cycle, and it is possible that control measures (or fear of the infection) have now caused changes in behavior that have led to a reduction in infections. Clearly this has not happened yet in Florida or Texas.
Four different measures of the infection and their potential meaning are reviewed in a well balanced study in this weekend’s WSJ. While all identify the cluster outbreaks in cities in southern and western states, the timing of these outbreaks and the ability to control them with public health initiatives is better reflected by some measures than others.
Remarkably, nationwide, only 14 states have more than 10 COVID deaths yesterday, and the national numbers continue to drop. Again, the reasons for this are unclear, as I pointed out last week. An article in The Atlantic, from last weekend, also reiterates this.
I expect as new social distancing requirements are put into place, the clusters of outbreaks in the southern states will start to wane. This provides an interesting test to see how rapid and effective these measures will be with the inevitable future outbreaks, given their early utility in the Northeast and midwest in April.
Eventually, with better monitoring we may be able to fine-tune limitations to allow for essential activities while increasing restrictions when outbreaks occur.