As we pass 153,000 deaths in the U.S. and well over 4 million cases, you’d think that political leaders, no matter which side of the aisle, would get their asses in gear to stop this slaughter. Instead, Trump was busy promoting a doctor who promotes wacko ideas. And one of his COVID-positive lapdogs, Rep. Louie Gohmert, wondered if he contracted the virus from wearing a mask.
Meanwhile, the IHME projects almost 200,000 deaths by November 1st if we keep restrictions where they are, and over 220,000 if we substantially remove them. Perhaps more interesting is their estimate of 185,000 deaths if there were a national mandate to wear masks. The idiotic musings of Louie Gohmert notwithstanding, masks could possibly save at least 35,000 lives over the next 3 months.
It doesn’t take a lot of sleuthing to see why the Zorgi Scores for the US keep rising: cases are up more than 70%, to 4.4 million; case doubling days have decreased from 52 to 41, which means that if things don’t change, we’ll have around 8 million cases by the middle of September; daily cases are up 60%+ to more than 60,000 per day; worst of all, daily fatalities are up to over 1,100 per day.
Thankfully, in California things are flattening out a bit, although we’re on a pretty high plateau. We started off the month with around 6,500 cases a day, and we’re finishing it with about 8,800 a day. The important thing is that a week ago, we were almost at 10,000 a day, so let’s hope this turns into a trend. The positivity rate is still to high at just over 7%, but better than the 7.8% from over a week ago.
The hospital situation for the state overall appears to be stable for now. Daily patients were rising steadily until about a week ago, when they leveled off at around 8,700. ICU patients also appear to be leveling off around 2,200 patients.
We see the same leveling off with fatality data, where daily fatalities have decreased slightly from 100 to 93, and the case fatality rate has dropped from 1.8% to 1.2%.
The Rt number for CA has been dropping steadily over the month. If you want to know more about this metric, please go to the source. The Zorgi score reached a high of 16.5, when the peak occurred for all the metrics involved with the ZS, but now has dropped to 13.9, not great, but an improvement.
By the way, I don’t consider 2 or 3 point differences in Zorgi Scores to be hugely significant. Since it’s not an epidemiological tool or a model, I use it more to see if the situation in a locality is worth looking into. So really, anything above a 5 is worthy of concern, and a score above 10 means things are not looking good. You can delve into the details of Zorgi Scores to your heart’s content.
San Diego County mirrors what’s happening in the state – a leveling off over the past week or so. Most importantly, the positivity rate has dropped below 5%, which it hasn’t done for over a month. Daily cases are still around 500, but at least this number isn’t climbing anymore.
In LA County, the positivity rate isn’t at 5% yet, but it’s been dropping over the past 7 days. Daily cases have shown a slight decrease, but daily tests have really dropped. My guess is that reflects a national shortage of testing supplies, another shameful gap in our federal response to the pandemic.
LA County’s fatality metrics are all trending in the right direction. Doubling days are now above 60, which at around 40 deaths a day isn’t great, but is much better than the 40 day number at the beginning of June. Daily fatalities have been dropping since July 10, down from over 50 a day to just under 40 now. The CFR is now just over 1%, getting close to what many experts think the final CFR will be, i.e. around 0.6%.
San Diego County’s fatality metrics are similar to LA’s, although daily deaths have been rising instead of falling. Still, absolute numbers are comparatively low, around 8 a day. The CFR at 1.5% is very close to LA’s, as is the fatality doubling day figure of 67 days.
Finally, let’s talk about the number of cases in the U.S. and how prevalent COVID is. A new study suggests that:
this ILI surge would have corresponded to more than 8.7 million new SARS-CoV-2 infections across the United States during the 3-week period from 8 to 28 March 2020. Combining excess ILI counts with the date of onset of community transmission in the United States, we also show that the early epidemic in the United States was unlikely to have been doubling slower than every 4 days. Together, these results suggest a conceptual model for the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States characterized by rapid spread across the United States with more than 80% infected individuals remaining undetected.https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/12/554/eabc1126
As noted above, we now have 4.3 million cases in the U.S. If this study is correct, that would mean that the case count is about half the real number. The prevalence index for various localities using case counts looks like this:
The prevalence index is simply the population of a locality divided by the number of cases in that locality. There’s a discussion of it here. The important thing is that it’s easier to visualize a group of 50 people, for example, than it is to go through the mechanics of comparing localities by normalizing their cases based on per 100,000 people. Think of your extended family — kids, parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, etc. My guess is that’s somewhere between 30 and 50 people. When we get my extended family on a Zoom call, there are 25 windows with an average of two people in each window (I know, it makes for a crazy call).
So in LA County, that means on average, every statistical extended family has at least one person who has been directly involved with COVID – tested positive, recovered, hospitalized, or died. In Spring Valley, one of the hardest hit cities in SD county, it’s one out of every 30. In the US as a whole, it’s one out of every two extended families.
If the study from Silverman, Hupert, and Washburne is correct, this is what the real situation is. Remember in April or May, we’d ask our friends, “Do you know anyone directly who’s had COVID?” If you lived in Spring Valley, your answer even back then would likely be yes. But in Orange County, where in the middle of May, the prevalence index was over 700, the answer in most cases was no.
Today, even in Orange County, the answer is likely to be yes. And in Spring Valley, it’s likely to involve a parent, sibling, grandparent, or child.
Add to this the sobering information that’s been coming out over the past 10 days about long term effects of COVID (I know, I need to do an update on that subject), and we can see why it’s been so dangerous for people to go without masks and to congregate inside. This is why it’s so dangerous for people like the “Frontline Doctors” to claim we don’t need masks because there’s a cure. And this is why outlets like Fox News, OANN, and Breitbart, in a Karma-driven world, would be out of business for spreading propaganda promoting death and disease.
Stay safe and healthy everyone, and wear your mask!