The exponential growth rate began to fall on March 24, but has not made meaningful progress in 6 days. Also, since testing has fallen further behind, some of the rate of growth may be hidden. Voluntary social distancing failed; we don’t yet know how well the State lockdowns are working.
Ben Engebreth is tracking coronvirus infection and testing numbers for each State, with graphs, here
- ***Number of deaths: Total 5,784, up +1,084 day/day
- Rate: increase of 9% day/day vs. average of 22% in past week
- Number of tests: 139,613, up +21,915 vs. 117,698 on April 1 day/day
- Rate: increase of +19% vs. number of tests previous day
Comparison of rates of increase in documented infections vs. testing
- Infections +9% vs. Tests +19% day/day
Result: The rate of testing had been failing to improve upwards until the past two days, meaning that we were actually falling further behind. Now we are catching up a little bit. Nevertheless, it remains far below what is needed, which is probably now at least 250,000/day. Note this target number is also increasing exponentially as we try to chase the number of exponentially increasing infections.
Ratio of tests to positives for infection (from COVID Tracking Project)
- Number: 139,613 new tests vs. 32,906 new diagnosed infections
- ***Ratio: 4.3:1
In South Korea, where aggressive testing has led to a near-total disappearance of new cases, the inflection point where the number of new daily cases plateaued was reached when the ratio of tests to new cases found reached 15:1. Any ratio less than that suggests that not enough testing is being done. Yesterday’s ratio of 4.3:1 continues to show that testing is falling further behind the level of new infections.
US States and population in total lockdown, business lockdown, and partial restrictions
- ***Total lockdown: 42 States (AL, MO joined in last 24 hours), 301.6 million, 90.9%
- ***Business lockdown: 3 States (KY, MA, SC*) 16.6 million, 5.0%
- Partial restrictions on business (bars, restaurants): 5 States (IA, ND, NE, UT*, WY) 9.7 million, 2.9%
- School closure only: 2 States (AR, SD) 3.9 million, 1.2%
- No mandatory restrictions: NONE
*some local areas under lockdowns
Here is The NY Times most recent graph (Nebraska has since closed some businesses)
Following Trump’s reversal on Easter Sunday openings, almost all of the holdout States in Dixie have implemented lockdowns. About 95% of the US population is now under stay at home orders.
Summary for April 4
Almost every public health authority who has weighed in has advocated the “Sledgehammer, then Scalpel” approach of a temporary total lockdown, during which time, as the infection rate of growth hopefully moves to flat, the production and distribution of necessary medical equipment is surged. Once enough is in place, a regimen of “test, trace, and quarantine” can be put in place as the lockdown is lifted.
Here’s how we stand:
- Almost 95% of the total US population is – finally – under total lockdown, with only a few States in the Great Plains, plus Arkansas, Utah, and Wyoming holding out.
- While “Social distancing” and lockdowns appear to have lowered the growth rate of new infections, they have failed as a method to halt the virus’s spread.
- The effect of mandatory lockdowns, first implemented on Statewide bases 15 days ago, is only beginning to be felt.
- Travelers from States that resisted lockdowns until this week (especially Florida!) have probably re-seeded new outbreaks in those that went to lockdowns early.
- The number of daily tests has finally improved from about 100,000 to 140,000, but is still probably only half of what is necessary. “Pending” tests of 61,980 are far, far too high.
- So long as the virus keeps spreading at an exponential rate, even a lower one, we are falling further and further behind, I.e., we are failing to catch more new infections. The longer this continues, the longer it will be until total lockdowns can be lifted.
- The Trump Administration has still not mandated a nationwide lockdown.
- The Trump Administration has taken no meaningful steps to mandate mass production of necessary medical equipment.
- The Trump Administration has taken no steps towards a nationwide “test, track, and quarantine” plan that will be needed to lift lockdowns.
- The first State I am aware of – Massachusetts – has begun to develop its own “test, trace, and quarantine” plan. Hopefully this will be adopted by other States quickly.