Daily COVID-19 Briefing: 5/1/20

Top news, reports and insights for today:

  1. Daily headlines for Friday:
  • Experts say U.S. death toll may be undercounted by tens of thousands (ABC News)
  • California to close Orange county beaches after thousands flocked there last weekend (The Guardian)
  • South Korean CDC finds no evidence that once-infected patients can be re-infected (Sky News)
  • Coronavirus outbreak likely to go on for two years, scientists predict (CNBC)
  • Maryland sees jump in new cases, hospitalizations down slightly (Baltimore Sun)
  1. The U.S. has recorded 200,626 new cases and 4,016 deaths. That was last week.
    On Thursday, the U.S. reported 29,818 new COVID-19 cases, a 3% increase. That is more cases in one day than the total accumulated throughout the epidemic in the U.S. as of March 21. Cases grew rapidly last week in 5 midwestern states including Iowa (+82%), Kansas (+71%), Minnesota (+75%), North Dakota (50%), and Nebraska (+102%). The lower graph is from #COVIDMonitor and shows the log-log plot of last week’s cases against cumulative cases. This is the graph that best indicates states that have peaked (visible as a clear down-turning ‘hook’ in the curve). A case can be made in 11 states that peak has happened in new cases (subject to differences in testing across states). Another 10 states, including New York, Michigan, Oregon, Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, and Texas appear to be trending that direction. However, 22 states are still in a high-growth phase, many are still in exponential growth. This includes several central states where the epidemic has barely slowed (including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Kentucky, Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi, and New Mexico).
    Bottom line: Most of the nation has not yet peaked. Opening now is premature from an epidemiologic viewpoint. Many states that would otherwise reach peak if lockdown was maintained are likely to see new case growth return to exponential pace in 2-3 weeks.
Screen capture taken 5/1/20 from: #COVIDMonitor United States: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/30/california-beaches-closed-coronavirus-risks-experts
  1. What a difference a month makes
    Let’s take a moment to talk about the journey the U.S. has been on in April. Here are some pretty interesting maps I got from one of my favorite graphing sites: coronashutdown. The first map shows confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population by county on April 1. The second map shows where we were on the last day of April. The nation had reported 212,000 cases on the first day of the month, and 1.1 million on the last. Even with inadequate testing, April saw 851,149 cases and 52,354 deaths.
    Staring at these maps, the thing that strikes me is that much of the intensity we see at the end of the month is an extension of what we saw in the beginning. The patches of infection that appeared April 1 radiated outward and became more severe. There were clues in the data on April 1 about where we would be at the end. Very few areas now with high prevalence arose without warning. What we see at the close of the month was, in many cases, predictable. Consider McKinley County New Mexico (labeled on Map 1) now with 1,335 cases/100K. That county had just 34/100K April 1 but was next to counties to the west and northeast that were hot spots then. Dougherty county in southwest Georgia was a hot spot on April 1 at 592/100K. The epidemic radiated east and west by the end of the month, connecting with other hot spots to form a deadly corridor of high-intensity transmission from the Carolina coast to central Texas.
    Bottom line: It was a rough month. Anyone who thinks the coronavirus outbreak is only a problem for big cities on the coast has not seen these maps. May will be all about transmission in rural areas and small towns.

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