Statistics

Coronavirus Update IX: End Game—Will Politicians Double Down On Fear Or End It?

All the good stuff, caveats, code, data sources and explanations are linked, some in Update III, and the most important in Update II, Update IV, Update V, Update VI, Update VII, Update VIII Bayes Theorem & Coronavirus, and the Sanity Check Perspective, so go to them first before asking what-about-this-and-that. Skip to the bottom for the latest model. Thanks to everybody emailing me sources, including Ted Poppke, Jeff Jorgensen, Jim Fedako, Joe Bastardi, Philip Pilkington, John Buckner, Harry Goff, John Goetz, Warren McGee. Sorry I’m slow answering emails.

Friends, I am swamped at the moment with this material, and with writing assignments related to it. I only have time to do a brief update on the models themselves, plus a few related comments.

If you’re in a hurry, skip to the end for a discussion on the political predictions: when will the lock downs end? The numbers of reported cases and deaths are only part, and probably only a small part, of that.

Do Lock Downs Work?

I’ll soon have more on this. You already know my answer: meh.

Here from one source are the reported curves (I can’t find China or Taiwan deaths, but maybe this tool only does cases for them).

See Sweden in the middle there? They didn’t have a lock down. Yet they survived and are coming out of it. Italy did, and survived and are coming out of it. Taiwan did not, and did best, and are pretty much out of it. 6 deaths; see a picture of cases here.

“How many deaths did you say for Taiwan, and without a lockdown?”

Six. Population 24 million.

Sure, they had mandatory quarantines of a handful of suspected cases and people arriving from dodgy countries, like England. But schools never closed, businesses didn’t close. Masks, the same news source said, became mandatory on public transportation a week back. Travel’s way down, too, reports say.

Behavior matters, of course. As do a host of other things, like composition of the population. Yet it appears a herd immunity strategy is doing just as well as full on PANIC! strategy we adopted. How many people lost their jobs, their businesses, their livelihoods, their homes, even their lives? And it’s not over. France just extended Yellow Vest Sequestration until 11 May.

The shape the curve for most countries is the same functional form, as we predicted it would be from day one (well, with warnings about looking at localities and not whole countries, etc.).

Like I said, I’ll have more on this soon, more quantitatively—especially about the models that got us into this mess. And I’ve said about flu, week after week, even in its worst years it comes and it goes with no active measures taken (see last week’s update). The same forces responsible for these trends must be at play with COVID-19. How did we forget that?

Meanwhile, here’s a thread saying the same thing:

“This is how it is all over the world. Both in countries where they have taken closure steps like Italy and in countries that have not had closures like Taiwan or Singapore. In such and such countries there is an increase until the fourth to sixth week, and immediately thereafter moderation until during the eighth week it disappears.”

Our Global Model

I cannot stress highly enough that these simple models are for reports of cases and deaths, and not actual cases and deaths.

One big problem with medical data, as I have warned from the beginning, is that it’s a mess. We have reports from all over the world, done in dozens of different ways, all more and less accurate, and are trying to make sense of a

As always, the data is current as of 8 PM EST Monday night.

Here are the global totals:

New reported case total: 2.3 million. New reported death total: 167,000. Last week the model said “Just under 2 million reported cases, and about 131 thousand reported deaths.” An increase in both, which will become clear in the dailies.

Daily reported cases:

If you recall the mini-update, it was posted on the day the reported cases spiked down, and I warned not to believe this would stick. Turns out the very next day it blasted off like the federal deficit. Then sunk low. Why? Reporting heterogeneity. Not every municipality, county, region, state, country, or whatever, reports on the same rigorous 24/7 schedule. The world doesn’t run on the model’s schedule.

The extreme spikiness upward accounts for the increase in totals.

Anyway, if you take this into account, and suppose our reported-cases model is some kind of guess of actual measured cases, then it’s still clear this is on the way out.

Daily reported deaths:

Same spikes, for same reasons, from same countries reporting cumulative multi-day totals. This is not interesting in itself, unless you really want to understand how bureaucracies work.

What is interesting is the reported deaths peak lag behind reported cases, as we’d expect if the model has some basis in reality. The spike also caused the model to slightly shift northwards.

It’s hard to see, but you’ll recall the deaths in particular have an up-down up-down up-down manner. The latest was an up, but a small one. Meaning don’t read too much into the spikes.

We don’t need the acceleration plots. We are clearing post (second) peak.

Lastly, here’s the total report deaths divided by the total reported cases:

There is no way that more than 6% of those who are reported to test positive are dying from this. And it would astonish me if even a fraction of that are dying with coronavirus.

There might be a hint this flattening, a flatness which necessarily must happen. Eventually, there will no more reported cases or deaths (or in such low numbers not to make a difference). At that point the curve is flat.

Oh, for fun, here’s the percent global population of reported cases and deaths:

At the end, 0.03% reported cases—probably will rise with increased testing. And 0.002% reported deaths—won’t rise as much.

Brings us in line with low end estimates of Swine “What me, panic?” Flu.

USA! USA! USA!

Totals for US:

Just under 700 thousand reported cases (likely will rise with new testing). And about 33 thousand reported deaths—both with and from combined. Last week the model said “Total reported cases: 510,000. Total reported deaths: 18,500.”

The doubling comes in the boost we saw in the mini-update coming from the dying-with re-emphasis. We can see that in the dailies.

Daily reported cases:

Even with the increased testing and scrutiny, we’re on the way down.

Daily reported deaths:

Again, even with the re-emphasis, we’re on the downslope. The re-emphasis happened right after that would-be peak a little more than a week back. That caused the model to see double.

To get to the 100 to 250 thousand, as Fauci and the other experts promised based on their models, this thing is going to have to jump up like a spider in a stove. Or it could be their models stank and should never have been heeded.

When Can We Smile Again?

Since this is a reporting-process model, and reports drive political decisions, we again want to use our model to predict the end of the panic.

These numbers—forget the model—are available to every politician. They see them. They must at least suspect they can’t keep up the turmoil, fear, and paranoia for too much longer.

The fear works. Probably not readers here, but a great deal of the public was, and still is, frightened out of their wits. One anecdote among many, but one citizen said lifting the lock down “I want to go back but only if we will be safe.”

When did we get the idea the government could keep us from getting sick?

Skip that: now look at the model. At what point do our elites realize they have to call it off? This model is only one piece of evidence among many others you can use to judge. For example, the model says by 1 May or so, few to no more daily reported deaths.

Assume the model is correct. As in assume it is correct. 1 May, few to no new reported deaths. That does not mean politicians can’t threaten new ones. Why, here’s a banker—known experts in viral outbreaks—saying we have to such it up 18 more months. Kashkari Says U.S. May Face 18 Months of Rolling Shutdowns.

Without an effective therapy or a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the U.S. economy could face 18 months of rolling shutdowns as the outbreak recedes and flares up again, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari said.

“We’re looking around the world. As they relax the economic controls, the virus flares back up again,” Kashkari said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Kashkari is a voter in 2020 on the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

Eighteen months is best-case for a virus. More likely it’s a couple of year away. But who knows. Notice this Kash’n’carry is threatening “flare ups”. Stay afraid!

Kash’n’carry is pushing prime grade AAA bonded bullshit, but that does not mean it won’t sell and he (they) can’t get away with it.

On the other hand, the WSJ is reporting: States Move to Coordinate on Reopening Plans: Trump says federal government—not governors—will make the final call on sending Americans back to work and reopening closed businesses.

Elites are taking a hit in all this, too. Though it won’t kill them, as it will the poor, who are lining up for food. A small hole in their finances they can stomach, especially if it’s relative holes. But a gaping pit, like Hollywood is facing? How long will they stand it?

I don’t have answers for these questions. I’m hoping you do.

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Categories: Statistics

33 replies »

  1. COVID 19 – raw data extracted from Australian Government Heath Dept Website

    In Australia up to 6:00AM 13 April 2020

    Number of people tested 366,000 (we have now tested over 1.4% of the Australian population)
    Number who have tested positive 6400
    Number who have died 61
    Infection rate of those tested 1.749%
    Death rate of those tested positive 0.953%
    Death rate of all tested 0.017%
    Fatality rate per 100,000 of Aussie population 0.248
    Infection rate of Australian Population 0.026%
    Current survival rate 99.047%
    Number currently in a serious or critical condition 80 (1.25%)
    COMMENT
    Let’s say for arguments sake, that of the people tested to date, those that are currently in a serious or critical condition succumb to the virus. That would be 141 deaths out of the diagnosed 6400. This still leaves the fatality rate below single figures. (0.57) It still means that the survival rate is 97.8%.
    I really worry that Australia has gone too far in it’s lock-down – our winter is just around the corner and we will not have any herd immunity as the rest of the world will. Now I am worried. But the politicians will claim they won wont they?

  2. I suppose if this were in any way about a virus, all of this would matter. It is not. It’s a test to see how easily a bunch of braindead people can be herded into pens and kept there indefinitely. Learn to love that pen, because people just massively failed the test and are definately sheep.

    The lockdown will have to cease as it warms up. As stated before, even the stupid animals get the urge to be free when it warms up. While I’m not sure if humans are that smart, probably they are and there will be “beach riots” soon if the humans are not freed from their current enslavement. Even bribing them to sit on their back sides with two or three thousand a month, more than they earn, will only last so long.

    We’re pouring milk in ditches, smashing eggs that were to hatch for raising chickens, throwing out tons and tons and tons of produce due to stupid people no being able to feed themselves. With schools and restaurants closed, munching Funyuns is the only way not to starve. Seriously, who knows how to cook bacon? You just go to a restaurant. Parents never fed their kids, the schools did. So, next panic–we are out of food because we’re stupid and will dumped it all in ditches. It won’t come back for six months or more, which stupid people also do not understand. I think this will be an easy, quick panic scenario that will be very, very effective. I read even snack food is running low, so expect FOOD WARS soon. Never let any possible lie, deception or human stupidity go to waste.

    Opening up will just allow Food Wars, so are we really ahead?

  3. Given that our government knows all of the above , what exactly is the point of continuing the lock-down? And why was it done in the first place? Could there be ulterior motives for putting the country through all of this?

    Surely there will many conspiracy theories.

  4. Ever notice how the response to Covid resembles the response to leprosy? Driven out of sight because you might be “marked” or possesed or whatever? Resembles blood-letting, too. Bleed the patient and if he lives….

    This is human beings devolving. We have superb medical care and we are terrified of a bug just like the worshippers of shamans. How stupid, stupid, stupid we have become.

    Now, go get that next blood-letting session done or you will surely die.

  5. #1 son in the People’s Democratic Republic of Maryland has the plague. He has talked to a doctor by phone, because the offices are closed, and been diagnosed. He won’t be tested, because he’s not sick enough and there aren’t enough kits to test anybody who isn’t critically ill. So that’s another data point to consider.

    He’s 19, and ridiculously healthy. He’ll be fine. Of course, he’s broke now from being quarantined, so he might just go hungry. Good thing he likes ramen.

  6. @Mr. Briggs: Another spot-on analysis (or start to one). re:
    “There is no way that more than 6% of those who are reported to test positive are dying from this. And it would astonish me if even a fraction of that are dying with coronavirus.”
    Is it possible that in your haste to get this posted, you may have swapped “with” and “from”?

    @Sheri: I think you may be a bit too pessimistic regarding the short-term capability of the general public to scrounge ingredients and cook meals (possibly true in the cities), but otherwise I generally agree with you. This not about COVID-19, this is an exercise in perfecting the playbook for implementing a full-on, out-of-the-closet, permanent, police state. I think the reputation of journalists and media as objective, independent watchdogs of the rights of the people was always largely a fiction of their own creation, but what little real integrity ever existed in the profession has now been purged. And the State apparatus now has ample documentation of what stimulus will cause the soft-boiled frog populace to jump, and in which direction, and how far. The current prognosis for Liberty is far worse that that for COVID patients.

  7. Fauci is “crushing the curve!”(TM)

    The UNEMPLOYMENT curve, that is.

    At the end of the 2008-09 recession, there were 665,000 applications for unemployment benefits.

    As Fauci’s destruction of the economy accelerates in spring 2020, 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment the last week of March. Lives destroyed, dreams crushed, families thrown into poverty.

    “Department of Labor (DOL) released data on initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims, showing that UI claims jumped from 211,000 in the week ending March 7th to 6.6 million in the week ending March 28th. This is more than a 3,000% increase in three weeks. This kind of upending of the labor market in such a short time is unheard of.”

    See the curve: 211,000 to 6,600,000 in 3 weeks:

    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/04/02/portrait-disaster-initial-unemployment-claims-us-jump-211000-66-million-just-3

    “Success!” cackles the mad doctor and his globalist handlers!

  8. If the IFR is ~1%, which is what many of the models assumed, then the 6% is either from a lack of broad testing, inflation of deaths, or both.

    Some folks are also reporting that hospitals make about $40K from a medicare patient who has covid and is on a ventilator. That’ll pay for the ventilator in one patient. That, and the layoffs in hospitalizations, would also motivate increasing the counts of infected in the hospital.

    Hard to know the truth.

  9. A great majority of the population in America believes in magic beans. And they trust the “system” to plant them. But if, for some dark reason, the magic beans don’t grow, and the believers begin to grow hungry and restless, the solution is simple: Elect another farmer. One who truly cares.

  10. Obviously this is all a result of an opportunistic Chinese tactical gambit to accelerate its worldwide economic preeminence by bankrupting capitalist/ic economies worldwide.

    By exploiting the MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO stratagem — recognizing that Left Wing populations, inured to virtue signaling, are particularly vulnerable:

    Upon encountering a somewhat nasty virus, somewhat worse than flu in some cases, pounced on the opportunity and imposed martial law and other police state tactics to contain it. While letting interlopers ‘escape’ and spread it worldwide.

    Inevitably virtue signaling took hold as society after society tried to out do each other, but being too free to go to Chinese totalitarian extremes nevertheless strived to try to do as much.

    AND, predictably, a standard psychological defense mechanism of reinforcing a decision after the fact kicked in. Most humans need, crave, or are susceptible to such reassurance AFTER making a decision. If you saw Trump’s Apprentice you probably saw such situations where who to fire could go with a coin flip or even dice toss … then moments after the deed the reassurances started to assure that was the clear best decision. This is very common. People routinely concoct excuses to justify, post hoc, decisions — to include ignoring clear factual evidence. Better to feel good than admit to oneself you just let some huckster rip you off.

    China merely took some initiative and after setting a standard, let others mindlessly follow, with predictable results.

    Did that really happen?
    Maybe. It’s conceivable.
    It does make a nice conspiracy theory that is even plausible, though unlikely. If this sort of thing happens again then we (some of us) will know. Meantime I really hope the above is as far-fetched as it ought to be…

  11. Where I work – Raytheon – we just got word from our masters – there will be a 10% across the board pay cut – when you’re in a cattle stampede you’d better get out of the way if you can – even if it’s based on irrational fear and not facts – you can be trampled to death just the same – I found this vid from E Michael Jones pretty informative – perhaps others will as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pKxa_5dIfY&t=
    God bless to all
    And a great big thank you to Briggs for providing meaningful data and context it the middle of all this panic and disinformation

  12. Still using a non-applicable normal model?  

    Keep in mind the majority of cases in Taiwan are citizens returning home from Europe or the USA.  (I sure wish this were the case in the USA.) Taiwan has banned foreign nationals from entering. Those who came home are tracked digitally and checked physically.  A heavy penalty is administered if citizens don’t do as instructed.

    If the situation in Taiwan were like the USA situation, I have no  doubt the government would have taken  more draconian policies. Taiwan is not much different from China in many ways.  If you want to follow what Taiwan has been doing, then be ready because the police will enforce the temporary laws.  

    It is easy for people who believe they are healthy, can stay home or rely on someone to bring food home to criticize how other people feel. What’s there to be scared? Go get a job now, the economy needs your help.  Show us how brave you are by getting a job that needs contact with other people. 

    It is understandable why some people are worried and want to be careful.  The snarky comments toward them are unnecessary under the circumstances.   Just like my comment. So unnecessary. And a waste of my time. 

  13. Hey look at the bright side this puts a big wad of our cash on the table
    to help all those poor companies that moved manufacturing to China,
    most of which don’t pay taxes, to relocate their operations to other
    low wage countries.

    We should all use the term conspiracy theory to explain events as often
    as possible millions have been spent to cause your brain to short circuit
    reality when that term is used much like Pavlov’s bell.

    Grit your teeth:
    Corona World Order: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB00mLArYBQ

  14. I predict lock down ends May 1st. Trump will announce this soon as a way to boost our spirits–we’ll know the end is in sight. There will be caveats of course, based on incoming data.

  15. Speaking of the flu, were you aware that the state of New York’s covid-related deaths blew past several recent annual flu-related deaths in less than four weeks? You can argue that some covid-related deaths have co-morbidity causes, but the same logic applies to other respiratory diseases, including the flu.

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-h7tXMM6_idQ/XpIEMZ5QN6I/AAAAAAAK_3k/3lhezf5VB_QKk7geGAyEY4wWblG3BX_NQCLcBGAsYHQ/s1600/NewYorkDeathsCOVID2019.png

    NY flu data: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/newyork/newyork.htm

    Hey, remember just two and a half weeks ago, when Briggs compared coronavirus to historical panademics, and thought that quadrupling the death count at that time would be sufficient, inventing a logical fallacy in the process of comparing death totals of pandemics in early stages to those of completed pandemics? We’ve already surpassed it.

    “Our naive model (which will be updated next Tuesday) has total deaths now about 58 thousand. Probably too small, because we haven’t hit the peak yet. We’re at 25 thousand now. Quadruple that to 100 thousand.”
    https://wmbriggs.com/post/30013/

    It is likely true that many who forecasted extremely high infection and death numbers were off by quite a bit. But literally every time Briggs has put out a forecast (modeled or not), it is easily surpassed within just a couple of weeks. He endlessly caveats his discredited methods (google Farr’s Law), but then declares with certainty that others are overreacting (and surely some governments have gone too far, but it was hard to know ahead of time what the shape of infections and deaths was going to look like). Eventually, Briggs will put out a reasonable forecast, because of course every pandemic reaches a limit (“Hey look, my model was right eventually!”). But given the track record so far, with forecasts which were over an order of magnitude too low, readers would be wise to take all of these posts with a big grain of salt.

    Briggs (as well as the Israeli mathematician discussed in the linked tweet in this post) is counting on a roughly Gaussian distribution of daily cases, but we can see from the country numbers that the right tail seems to drag on quite a bit.
    https://www.ft.com/__origami/service/image/v2/images/raw/http%3A%2F%2Fcom.ft.imagepublish.upp-prod-us.s3.amazonaws.com%2F549b5154-7e96-11ea-82f6-150830b3b99a?fit=scale-down&quality=highest&source=next&width=1260

    I’m not sure why the Israeli is trying to claim that cases go to 0 so quickly after the peak when they clearly haven’t in the countries that are at least that far along. And does he really believe that if Taiwan lifted restrictions that they wouldn’t see a surge in cases just because they’re more than six weeks past the start? It’s insane logic; the virus doesn’t become less contagious in a country based on time passing from the initial case (only insomuch as it is correlated with the prevalence of previously infected people). In fact, many countries that tried to let up restrictions went back to them. And some that just started with masks later implemented distancing restrictions because infections started to accelerate.

    So while I do think new daily cases are peaking or have peaked in many countries, that Gaussian right tail is not a law of nature, and this virus appears to be difficult to get rid of. I’m hopeful that warm weather will help out in the US soon.

    Regarding Taiwan, they were smart. As soon as they caught wind of a new virus in China, they shut down travel from China in early January. It’s also much easier to manage travelers in Taiwan, a country with only four international airports. Of course, when the US did the same ban around Feb 1, China called the US “racist.”

    Even WHO was more concerned about “stigma” than the virus itself early on. What a clown show. If China’s government were responsible, they would’ve shut down outbound travel in late December or early January instead of trying to cover up the outbreak.

  16. Dave,

    (and surely some governments have gone too far, but it was hard to know ahead of time what the shape of infections and deaths was going to look like)

    Let’s do some back-of-the-envelope math here. We were told this was 4-8 times worse than the flu. In a normal flu season, we might have 40,000 deaths. 40,000 x 8 = 320,000 deaths with no mitigation. This would’ve been about the death rate of the 1957 flu, as scientists predicted, but not the Spanish flu, as the press claims. Herd immunity would’ve built and the virus would’ve burned out on its own. Worldwide this could’ve resulted in millions of deaths as Dr. Lipsitch claimed.

    This is NOT like the flu in the sense that it kills mostly the elderly with comorbidities. Dr. Lipsitch said this early in March and the CDC’s data confirms it. (COVID is different than the flu in this regard, which seems to wack all age groups). Rather than confine everyone to quarters, we could’ve isolated the at-risk elderly and those with other breathing problems and mostly gone on with life rather than shut down the world. As it stands right now, we’re probably in for a repeat of this next fall because we lack herd immunity.

    The question is not what is the way to minimize COVID deaths but how do we get on with life in the presence of COVID while minimizing COVID deaths. So far, politicians and fear-mongers have only considered the former question. Economic calamity is also deadly and topples world orders.

  17. JH wrote:

    ”Just like my comment. So unnecessary. And a waste of my time.

    You got that right.

  18. Briggs:
    “When did we get the idea the government could keep us from getting sick?”

    History.com
    “In fact, the northern Italian town of Ferrara managed to prevent even a single death from the plague after the year 1576—even as neighboring communities were devastated. How did they do it? Critical in the city’s success, records suggest, were border controls, sanitary laws and personal hygiene.”

  19. Walt,

    Yes, I’m familiar with the idea of trying to isolate the elderly while everyone else try to move on normally. The problem with that idea is the elderly need the most assistance. It’s difficult for 85 year olds to just hide out and not come in contact with young people, even for just a couple of months. I agree that economic considerations need to be accounted for, but ahead of time, no one knew how quickly it would burn out or how much damage it would do, or to what extent it would strain the healthcare system’s capacity. As I’ve argued previously, there was option value in slowing spread and learning more about it. How often it cause permanent lung damage like coronaviruses SARS and MERS? What are the most effective ways to protect ourselves so we can return to normalcy safely? What are the most effective treatments? Can we ramp up testing and other means of reducing the spread? Can manufacture enough masks for people to wear daily at work, or even just for our health care providers? Etc. In that sense, I agree with answering some question like, “how do we get on with life in the presence of COVID while minimizing COVID deaths” or maybe simply, “now that we know more about it, what’s a good way to trade-off covid risk and economic activity?”

    One unusual thing about this virus is the stark difference in severity from case to case. Some people are asymptomatic (which is great news for mortality, but bad news for spreading), while others (even younger adults) have been sick for over a month. And not everyone who is dying is older or immune compromised, although does skew that way. The flu hospitalizations are skewed toward the elderly and infants. But of course, over 100M people get flu shots each year, and the CFR is much lower than covid, which helps explain why many people aren’t as worried about it.

    It’s unrealistic to think that the economy would be roaring without government shut downs. Private actions were already declining economic activity very quickly ahead of US government actions. People saw what happened in Wuhan, Italy, Iran, Spain, etc, and realized this was indeed serious. The government actions probably make a small marginal difference; people who were not worried about their own personal risk were not internalizing the cost to others if they became infected, and this is what the actions were aimed it. I’m sure some government actions have been overboard, like ones that prevent people from going outside, as Briggs has noted.

    The first plot I linked to in my earlier comment shows that covid deaths quickly outpaced flu deaths in New York within four weeks. Flu season in New York is about 6 months (although heavier in about 4 of those). I guess what bugs me is when people just look at the numbers-to-date and say, “Look it’s not so big,” after only 2 or 3 months of existence. That’s the equivalent of looking at an anvil teetering on a tall, wobbly post above you and saying, “What’s the problem? It’s far away from me.” The anvil has potential energy, just like a very contagious virus (and it was obviously very contagious back in January shortly after it broke) has potential for high damage. The available evidence is that this is both more deadly and more contagious than the flu. The New York numbers demonstrate its potential. If we manage to escape death totals of a typical flu season it will be either because we took action to isolate ourselves and/or because it entered the US close enough to warm weather to burn out.

    Attempting to slow down the spread for the first wave was reasonable because it bought time. And if hot weather really does stop the virus, then we’re that much closer to it now. This first wave is about to pass, and hopefully with that, we can figure out ways to safely resume some normalcy without repeating New York’s experience another 49 times.

  20. Re Dave and his “Gaussian tail”:

    Dr. Briggs supplied the R code which uses a Nonlinear Least Squares (nls) fit of the available data to the logistic function (SSlogis).

    The logistic function is not Gaussian or even close to it. See

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logistic_function

    The logistic function models cumulative growth (of cases and deaths in this usage). Note from the link above that the first derivative is termed the logistic distribution and it models the growth rate. The logistic distribution is a bell-shaped curve similar to a Gaussian curve but with a completely different mathematical equation.

    Let me simplify for those without a calculus background. The “first derivative” is the incremental slope of the cumulative curve (which is S-shaped). In the beginning of the pandemic cases and deaths are few and the slope of the cumulative curve is gradual (slow growth). Then it gets steep (fast growth). Then it passes through an inflection point (the middle of the S) and “flattens” out (slow growth again).

    Thus the growth rate is bell-shaped. The peak of the bell (the fastest growth) is at the inflection point of the cumulative curve.

    I hope that verbal description clarifies somewhat. The R model Dr. Briggs is using can calculate the inflection point (and hence the point of peak growth rate) but he does not report that! I don’t know why not!

    But it is clear that point in time has passed, and we are on the backside of the bell (i.e. declining growth rate or deceleration). The end approaches. Two weeks. Thank God.

  21. Further clarification: cumulative growth is the total number of cases or deaths from the beginning. The growth rate is the number of cases or deaths per day. (I can’t make it any simpler, but I could easily make it totally abstruse).

  22. Re Walt

    [COVID] is NOT like the flu in the sense that it kills mostly the elderly with comorbidities… the CDC’s data confirms it… we could’ve isolated the at-risk elderly and those with other breathing problems and mostly gone on with life rather than shut down the world.

    Thank you for the link to the CDC’s COVID-NET! The tracked metric is laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 associated hospitalizations. Values are per 100,000 people in a defined set of counties (comprising “10% of the US population” and including counties in high incidence states such as New York and Michigan as well as less afflicted ones in Iowa and New Mexico), by week.

    Tell me if I am wrong. This data is current as of end of week 4 April 2020.
    For the two age groups that can be considered working age, there were a total of 27 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, given the COVID-19 data points of 6.3 for 18 – 49 year olds plus 20.7 for 50 – 64 year olds.
    If I were to extrapolate this rate nationally, it would be 27 x 331.003 = 89,371 given the assumption of a 2020 United States population of 331,002,650 rounding up.
    We have no idea how much that figure has been reducing by social distancing and lockdown. We don’t know how many of those hospitalizations will result in deaths, although mortality rates aren’t especially high in that age range. There will also be some number of people in that age range, maybe 10% who suffer permanent lung damage as a result of contracting COVID-19 and requiring hospitalization.

    Weigh this against current news reports (as of 8 April 2020 via NBC) that the number of Americans relying on food banks has increased between 50% to more than 1000% due to the COVID-19 related unemployment and shutdowns, depending on area. There are many other gauges of societal distress other than hunger, but that is one of the first. Housing comes next.

    Making informed decisions about such trade-offs is what responsible public policy making is about. I don’t see that happening. (BTW, I don’t fault the Trump administration nor the Corona Virus Task Force. They aren’t the problem.)

  23. Uncle Mike,

    When I wrote, “roughly Gaussian distribution of daily cases, ” I was referring to “new daily cases” (cumulative cases of course cannot go down). New daily cases is the growth rate, so that should be compared to the Logistic Distribution, which you said is the growth rate in his models and is similar to the Gaussian. So I think maybe you misinterpreted what I said, and we are actually in agreement here.

    Looking more closely at this US daily cases prediction, I suppose it’s not quite symmetric, but I still think it’s dropping too fast. But maybe the hot weather really will squash that right tail. I certainly hope so.

  24. “In a study posted this week, scientists in China examined the blood test results of 34 COVID-19 patients over the course of their hospitalization. In those who survived mild and severe disease alike, the researchers found that many of the biological measures had ‘failed to return to normal.'”

    “…these apparently recovered patients continued to have impaired liver function.”

    “In an early study of COVID-19 patients in China, heart failure was seen in nearly 12% of those who survived, including in some who had shown no signs of respiratory distress.”

    “Citing the history of lasting lung damage in SARS and MERS patients, a team led by UCLA radiologist Melina Hosseiny is recommending that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 get follow-up lung scans ‘to evaluate long-term or permanent lung damage including fibrosis.'”

    https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-04-10/coronavirus-infection-can-do-lasting-damage-to-the-heart-liver

    I doubt whether all of these long term concerns will hold, but the point is that this longer term damage and effects are unknown, and we know some closely related viruses did have long term effects. There is value to having better information about the long term effects (i.e. understanding the costs of infection) before making judgments on the best trade-offs.

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