Source for the image above is Clipart-library.com, but I’m almost certain that’s a Far Side cartoon, so the real attribution is Copyright Gary Larson, used here without permission.
No change in trend. New cases continue to increase about 60% per week. The U.S. is now seeing about 17.5 new COVID-19 cases / 100,000 / day. Florida and Michigan haven’t reported new data yet, so the trend number might bump up a bit tomorrow.
Data source for this and other graphs of new case counts: Calculated from The New York Times. (2021). Coronavirus (Covid-19) Data in the United States. Retrieved 7/27/2021, from https://github.com/nytimes/covid-19-data.” The NY Times U.S. tracking page may be found at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html.
The only other thing I need to check is whether Missouri continues to appear to be topping out. That’s my bellwether for the likely duration of the U.S. Delta wave.
And then answer is maybe. If that is a top, it’s certainly taking its time about it.
Based on that, the only change I’ll make to my prior prediction for the U.S. Delta wave is that it will last more than seven weeks, total. With somewhat over three weeks of that already behind us. With all that longer duration implies for the peak rate of new cases per day.
Other than that, no change to my projection of what’s going to happen in the next three weeks. No sense repeating that. Look at my just-prior posts if you want to see it.
It might be worth showing the detailed state graphs, so you can grasp how eerily uniform the new-case growth rates are. Why is that significant? Because, to me, that signals that the virus is growing unconstrained, almost everywhere. To me, it’s a sign that nobody is doing anything effective to put a lid on this. That’s how you end up with this result. It’s spreading at its natural, unconstrained rate almost everywhere.
Or, at least, that’s how I read the graphs today. The only area with some true variation in trends seems to be the Midwest.
Afterthought, or just how unaware people are of the current situation.
As an afterthought, maybe we’re finally moseying toward the appropriate level of panic. Painfully slowly.
Today’s headline is a former CDC Director projecting 200,000 cases per day in six weeks. That 200,000 figure works out to 60 / 100,000 / day. Or somewhat less than the winter peak.
On the plus side, we finally have somebody credible tossing out numbers that resemble our winter peak. That’s on target, and at least that makes my prediction look not-quite-so-extreme.
On the minus side, that prediction assumes that new case growth immediately falls to one-third of the current level. In order for the U.S. to hit 60 / 100K / day in six weeks, we’d need to see the increase in the new case rate fall immediately to just 22% per week, from the current 62% per week.
Here’s how to look at that. A former CDC Director gets headlines by making this shocking prediction. But in fact, that prediction is no such thing. It’s actually soft soap. It tacitly assumes a huge, rapid, and totally improbable reduction in disease spread. It assumes a two-thirds reduction in new case growth, immediately, relative to the rate we’ve seen for the past three weeks.
The upshot is that even that extremely rosy scenario is considered shocking enough to make headlines. It’s almost as if nobody dares to do the flat-footed thing, and just extrapolate at the growth rate that has held steady for the past three weeks. And as a result, this wave will have overtaken the U.S. before most people have a clue as to what’s coming.
Sure hope I’m wrong. But I’m seeing nothing so far to make me change my projection. Standing around saying “maybe it won’t get that bad” is comforting, perhaps, but it’s surely unhelpful.