Here is the update through yesterday (May 18).
As usual, significant developments are in italics. The downward trend in new infections and deaths has continued. An important issue is whether we are beginning to see an increase in new infections in States which irresponsibly “reopened.” I will look at that separately from this post.
I will restart giving the daily increase in infections if States that have “reopened” start to increase significantly again. The preliminary evidence is that customers are largely staying away from reopened businesses in those States
- Number: 22,215, total 1,508,957 (vs. day/day high of +36,161 on April 24)
There has been over a 1/3 decrease in the number of new cases in the US from peak. The US nevertheless has the worst record for total cases in the world.
Number of deaths and rate of increase in testing (from COVID Tracking Project)
- ***Number of deaths: 786, total 84,640 (vs. day/day peak of +2,700 April 29)
- Seven day average of deaths: 1,362 (vs. 2,058 peak on April 21)
- Number of tests: 346,094 ( vs. daily peak of 411,235 on May 17*)
- Ratio of positive tests to total: 17.4:1 (new high)
- 7 day average of tests: 355,000* (new high)
- 7 day average of positive tests to total: (15.6:1* vs. target of 15:1)
*These numbers exclude 113,489 past negative tests reported by NJ on May 1
South Korea decisively contained COVID-19 once its ratio of total vs. positive tests rose to 15:1, when there were only 900 new daily infections nationwide and 15,000 tests. The US has 6.5x as many people as South Korea, but 25x the number of new infections daily. So the US as a whole is far from being able to lift its lock downs on a nationwide basis (although a few States and many rural areas probably could with proper tracing and isolation regimens).
Summary for May 15
- The number of daily new infections, adjusted for testing, appears to have peaked four weeks ago. There has been a decline of about 1/3 in new infections since then.
- The number of daily new deaths appears have peaked about 3 weeks ago.
- The trend number of daily tests has improved dramatically in the past 4 weeks to over 350,000. Better still, for the last 3 weeks, new infections have declined, even with higher testing – a very positive sign.
- The increase in infections in the rest of the US in late April and early May was mostly an artifact of the dramatic increase in testing in the rest of the country.
- My personal suspicion remains that the actual number of total infections in the US is a little under 5x the official number, or roughly 7 million, over 2% of the total population. Now that testing has improved, that rate will hopefully slowly improve over time as well.
- We are at the point where new infections might be expected to begin rising in States which have irresponsibly “reopened” their economy, but I will examine that separately.