All of the significant economic data is backloaded this week, onto Thursday and Friday. So don’t be surprised if I take a day off between now and then.
In the meantime, here is a Coronavirus update.
First things first: the most ominous thing I’ve read about the new coronavirus mutations comes from Dr. Eric Fiegl-Ding, who says, quite bluntly, “We need to switch to KN95, KF94, or European FFP2 masks ASAP. The new B117 COVID 19 is just too contagious. Cloth isn’t enough anymore folks.”
Everyone needs to take heed of that advice. There’s also evidence that the B117 variant infects people with much higher viral loads (I.e., copies of the virus at the outset), increasing the fatality rate significantly for older people.
In the meantime, here is where we stand.
Total confirmed infections: 25,127,000 (I suspect the true number, including cases that were never tested, is closer to 33 million, or 1 in 10 Americans)7 day average for last week: 170,032 (down from 249,168 peak on Jan 11)Total deaths: 419,2177 day average for last week: 3,088 (down from 3,355 peak on Jan 13)
Here are the 7-day averages for infections, hospitalizations, and deaths per capita graphically (note separate scales):
There really isn’t a meaningful lag between confirmed infections and hospitalizations, indicating people are waiting till they are quite sick before getting tested. Deaths still lag both infections and hospitalizations. Crossing my fingers that we have hit the winter peak for all three metrics already, but very worried about the B117 variant, since most experts think it will become the dominant strain in the US by March – and because it is so much more infections, that means yet another spike.
Now here is the vaccination data:
Total vaccinations: 20,537,9007 day average for last week: 1,179,830 (new high)
Here is the average graphically, per capita:
The good news is that the rate of vaccination has continued to increase, and already surpasses Biden’s 1 million per day goal. But in order to get everyone vaccinated by the end of 2021, we need to see that rise to over 2 million per day. And in order to get older people vaccinated before the new mutations cause a big spike in deaths, we probably need to see that rise to over 3 million per day in the next 45 days.