This weeks’ numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths show much better news. The spread of the virus appears to be down, and the numbers of deaths are also trending downward. Of interest, despite the number of new tests per day remaining stable, the number of new infections continues to drop. While still high at about 30,000 per day, it is about half of what it was at its peak.
There is also good news related to the R0. These numbers show that the infection is contracting (having an R0<1.0) in approximately 33 of 50 states.
This is impressive, but the reason for these drops in new infections isn’t clear. Increased public health measures are certainly contributing, but they have been much less restrictive than during the initial shutdown. Also, it may be that the highly publicized return to college parties have not yet impacted the numbers. Also, infections in some of the hotspots have reached a point that some degree of herd immunity has occurred. Data from Florida and Arizona has shown dramatic drops in new infections and may support this concept.
It is interesting to compare this to states that recently raised concern about new spikes in infections. Ohio (left below) and Missouri (right below) were called out by Dr. Birx as new “hotspots,” but neither seemed to take off in a manner similar to their southern counterparts. The total number of cases in each state has plateaued at only 1,000 per day.
Finally, the biggest outlier in this trend is California, where despite aggressive social restrictions, new cases and deaths have not started to fall. New cases per day continue to hover around 5,000-7,000 a day.
It is interesting that the news media seems to ignore the numbers when cases are falling and trumpet them when they are rising. While these data are good news, the successful trends could be upended by back to school infectious clusters or other activities.
Finally, everyone seems to be worried about the fall and winter and a recurrence due to indoor activity. We can only hope that these concerns are as wrong as the predictions of a summer lull!