Coronavirus

As COVID-19 Cases Surge, Daily Deaths and the Case Fatality Rate Continue To Fall

Expanded testing, a younger mix of patients, and improved treatment help explain the seemingly contradictory trends.

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As COVID-19 cases surge in the United States, both daily deaths and the crude case fatality rate continue to decline. There are several plausible explanations for those seemingly contradictory trends, including expanded testing that identifies more mild cases, a younger mix of patients, and improved treatment.

Nationwide, the number of newly identified COVID-19 cases hit a record high of more than 57,000 on July 2, up from fewer than 20,000 on Memorial Day. That number had dropped to 44,530 as of yesterday. During that same period, the number of daily deaths, which peaked at 2,749 on April 21, fell from 636 to 251.

Since there is a lag of about two weeks between laboratory confirmation and death, we can expect to see daily fatalities rise during the next few weeks. But they are still likely to be far below the levels recorded in April and early May. The crude case fatality rate in the United States, which exceeded 7 percent in early March, has fallen to 4.5 percent.

Are these positive trends an illusion created by looking at nationwide averages rather than what is going on in the states where cases are rising dramatically? To some extent, yes. Daily deaths are rising in those states, but not nearly as much as you would expect if COVID-19 were killing patients as frequently as it did earlier in the epidemic.

In Texas, newly confirmed cases rose 13-fold, from 623 to 8,258, between May 25 and July 4 before falling to 3,449 yesterday. The number had risen six-fold as of two weeks ago, and by now that increase should be having an impact on daily deaths. Yet the rolling seven-day average of daily deaths has risen only modestly since Memorial Day, from 26 to 32. Meanwhile, the crude case fatality rate for Texas, which peaked at 3.4 percent on April 30, has continued to fall, reaching 0.5 percent yesterday.

"So far," The New York Times notes, "the death toll has not climbed much in Texas and other parts of the South and West seeing a surge." Even taking into account the increase in cases during the last two weeks, Youyang Gu's epidemiological model projects that daily deaths in Texas will rise to a peak of 64 in mid-to-late August before declining to 52 by the end of September. That's a substantial increase but not at all commensurate with the spike in cases.

Expanded testing helps explain declining case fatality rates in Texas and across the country. Since the denominator now includes more people with mild or no symptoms, the apparent death rate was bound to fall. Another likely reason why COVID-19 looks less deadly now than it did earlier in the epidemic is that the average age of new patients has fallen dramatically in the states where cases are surging. The median age of people testing positive for the virus in Florida, for example, plummeted from 65 in early March to 35 in mid-June.

This wave seems to be driven largely by young people getting together in bars and at house parties, and perhaps also by low-risk individuals returning to work. It makes sense that people whose own risk of dying from COVID-19 is negligible would be less likely to wear masks and follow physical distancing guidelines. Americans who are most vulnerable to the disease, meanwhile, are apt to be especially cautious, and states presumably have gotten better at protecting them than they were two months ago, when nursing home residents accounted for more than two-fifths of COVID-19 deaths.

Improvements in treatment probably also help explain why COVID-19 patients are faring better now. Medical personnel have "become more knowledgeable about promising treatments and palliative care options to combat the coronavirus and its effects," the Times notes. "For instance, prone positioning, in which patients are flipped onto their stomachs, can ease respiratory distress by opening up the lungs. Critically ill individuals are also now known to be vulnerable to excessive blood clotting, and may benefit from blood thinners. And the steroid dexamethasone appears to reduce deaths among patients with severe Covid-19, although the data demonstrating this emerged only recently."

One of the arguments for lockdowns was that delaying cases would reduce the ultimate death toll by buying time for improvements like these. That may indeed be what happened, although the extent to which lockdowns actually reduced virus transmission is a matter of much debate. Cellphone and foot traffic data show that Americans were practicing social distancing before they were legally required to do so and started moving around more before lockdowns were lifted.

Gu's estimates likewise show that the COVID-19 reproductive number—the number of people infected by the average carrier—was falling before states started imposing lockdowns, although that policy may have reinforced the preexisting trend in some places. As of yesterday, according to his model, the reproductive number in California was 1.1, compared to 1.07 in Texas and Florida.

On the face of it, that comparison does not suggest that California has been especially successful in reducing transmission, even though it led the nation in imposing sweeping legal restrictions on movement and economic activity, which it has been lifting only gradually. California, like Texas and Florida, has seen a spike in newly confirmed cases since mid-June. In all three states, Gu projects, daily deaths will rise gradually until mid-August or so, then fall gradually through September.

Whatever role imposing and lifting lockdowns have played in these trends, the outlook at this point is much less grim than many people predicted. Back in March, the Trump administration was projecting a many as 2.2 million deaths in the United States, which would have made COVID-19 as deadly, adjusting for population growth, as the "Spanish flu" epidemic of 1918. Gu, who has a good track record of predicting COVID-19 deaths, is now projecting about 186,000 by October 1.

As recently as May 4, The New York Times was warning that the United States could see 3,000 COVID-19 deaths a day by June 1, thanks to "reopening the economy." That is 12 times the current level and four times the number Gu is projecting for late August.

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  1. This is being caused largely by the virus hitting areas that hadn’t been hit before. It isn’t that hard to figure out. The question is whether- as it burns through a region- the local government does what is necessary to protect the most vulnerable from getting infected.

    1. “‘The question is whether- as it burns through a region- the local government does what is necessary to protect the most vulnerable from getting infected.””

      Cuomo has an answer.

      What I find funny is Cuomo trying to shame other states when his is the friggin worst.

      1. New York STATE is down to 5-12 deaths a day.

        1. Well yeah he killed everyone off already

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        2. Well yeah, it killed everyone it was going to kill

        3. Ran out of nursing homes to infect, did he?

  2. But you better wear a mask or Tony and Jeff and their socks will cry about how you’re killing grandma instead of just admitting they relish having power

    1. Tony’s a fat immunocompromised HIV carrier, the risk is real as fuck to him.

      1. The question I have is why he thinks running sockpuppets instead of running outside is a good idea.

        I guess maybe he’s so scientifically ignorant that he thinks every kind of running will help him drop some kgs.

      2. In which case, *HE* should take the appropriate measures.

        1. But the appropriate measures are uncomfortable and annoying. Everyone should have to do them together or else it won’t be fair.

  3. Gu, who has a good track record of predicting COVID-19 deaths, is now projecting about 186,000 by October 1.

    It is about time for some of these modellers to take a stab at projecting into next flu season rather than stopping in Sep. I assume that there is enough info to at least have an alpha or beta version for that sort of model.

    1. Scared?
      Crawl in a hole, you cowardly piece of lefty shit.

    2. It is about time for some of these modellers to take a stab at projecting into next flu season rather than stopping in Sep. learning to code.

      Fixed

    3. 5 days left on your prediction of arizona being a scene of endless dead bodies you made just over a week ago. ICU percentage largely steady at one third being with covid (not because of covid). Average age tested dropping like florida. Most of the bad cases coming from border areas and reservations.

      1. I did not predict 10 days you lying moron. I said that the July4th celebration infections would put you all over the top re ICU. That does not mean they go into ICU on the 5th or the 10th of July.

        You’re very lucky that the people running your medical systems are a fuckload brighter than you. They have put together what they call ‘crisis care standards’. What Sarah Palin called ‘death panels’. What I called ‘triage at the hospital door’. THEY know a Wuhan/Lombardy/NYC overfill is coming. Your gov asked the feds for 500 medical workers. Golly, I wonder if that is the capacity bottleneck. That you all are now sucking on everyone else’s tit to resolve for you. And hey – that’s also exactly what happened with Wuhan (50,000 medical workers were sent there – and it is why ALL of China was locked down to free them up)/Lombardy/NYC.

        Hell – this could be a great time for you to provide actual local data – even if it is anecdotal. Like, I hear your gov just re-lockdowned bars/gyms/etc – are they really shut down or are they still packed? How long are the lines to get tested – I’ve heard 8 hr waits with up to three weeks for results? – and that is certainly affecting CO too since we are now sending test kits to AZ (without taking all the water from the CO River in return). Are ‘elective’ surgeries being re-postponed yet?

        But you’re so vested in the politics of this that you are a completely unreliable source of any data that might be useful. Instead pretending that this is entirely about predicting the exact moment like this is some solar eclipse that will determine an election.

      2. And no – the ICU numbers are not ‘steady’. That’s just another lie to support a political narrative you have. From AZ DHS

        I think you all had 257 ICU beds available in total when we had this back-and-forth. As of yesterday, it’s now 167. The ICU beds taken up by people with COVID have gone from low-600’s then to 869 as of yesterday. And it looks like increasing by about 30/day for early July so far. There’s a limit to how many non-covid patients the covid patients can push out of ICU – before stuff like your run-of-the-mill heart attack patients in their 60’s conflicts with a covid patient in their 40’s. And hey presto – you got yourself death panels.

        1. Note that the chart states “Number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Beds in Use by Positive or Suspected COVID-19 Patients”. That is not a statement indicating that those patients necessarily _need_ ICU support. It is entirely possible that many of them (particularly the “suspected” cases) are being put into ICU because it is a readily available means of isolating them from other patients, which is a sensible approach being taken by some Florida hospitals (I haven’t looked elsewhere, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find that it’s a common approach). In that case, if there were a significant uptick in COVID-19 patients who actually _need_ ICU support, those who are there merely due to the convenient availability of isolation could be moved to areas separately prepared on fairly short notice. We’re likely a long way away from any out of the ordinary “death panels” (yes, there are always death panels in uncommon cases, because resources such as donated organs are limited). Thanks for the fear mongering, though.

          1. It is entirely possible that many of them (particularly the “suspected” cases) are being put into ICU because it is a readily available means of isolating them from other patients,

            Anything is entirely possible. But putting someone in ICU because they need isolation from general patients (but not ICU patients who would presumably be the most vulnerable in a hospital) – when there is plenty of capacity available in the hospital itself but not in ICU – is really the height of stupid. Kind of like sending covid patients to nursing homes in order to park them there for awhile. Effective way to clear up beds in ICU though.

            The death panels I’m talking about are not things like current transplant lists. They are triage at the hospital door. In Lombardy for awhile (a brief while), the triage protocol was ‘no patients over 60 admitted to hospital. No exceptions’. The result is that recorded covid deaths become a serious understatement of the real excess mortality at that point.

            On the bright side – it’s the best possible revenge for millennials and Z’s. They have been forced to WAY overpay for health insurance – to subsidize the older generations. Now they get to USE that insurance to fill up the hospitals themselves and let the older ones die outside hospital even with insurance.

            1. “But putting someone in ICU because they need isolation from general patients (but not ICU patients who would presumably be the most vulnerable in a hospital) – when there is plenty of capacity available in the hospital itself but not in ICU – is really the height of stupid.”

              At least some hospitals are doing it, and I’m not in a position to judge the stupidity of it. If isolation is effectively “built in” to ICU beds, and there are more than enough to meet demand, then it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me (not a doctor) to utilize that resource rather than make special isolation arrangements elsewhere when it may not be needed in the long term.

              We’re a very long way from the horror of what Lombardy had to handle, even in the worst-hit US localities.

              I consider your “revenge” comment to be childish, and Gen. Z isn’t filling up the hospitals: https://reason.com/2020/07/06/as-covid-19-cases-surge-daily-deaths-and-the-case-fatality-rate-continue-to-fall/#comment-8336322

              1. If isolation is effectively “built in” to ICU beds, and there are more than enough to meet demand, then it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me (not a doctor) to utilize that resource rather than make special isolation arrangements elsewhere when it may not be needed in the long term.

                At least in AZ, there ISN’T much spare capacity in ICU. That’s my point. As I said 167 beds left. There’s still capacity in general inpatient beds (1500 beds). And tons of options to expand stuff temporarily. The ski areas in CO converted all their sports/skiing rehab beds (stuff normally used for outpatient ACL/orthopedic only) into general inpatient. They could’ve converted tens of thousands of hotel rooms into general isolation/watch if necessary. All over the world, places have built temporary field hospitals – of a variety of sizes – some in as little time as one week. Converting convention centers and the other ‘concentrated gathering areas’ that gets shut down anyway but where the space can be repurposed for awhile.

                There’s all sorts of ways to beat a bug. Not anywhere near as many ways to beat stupid.

                Gen. Z isn’t filling up the hospitals

                I agree. For now. It is still a fat generation though – and obesity is one of the comorbidities that greatly increases the odds of hospitalization and more serious stuff. One of the reasons we shouldn’t take quite so much optimism from the under-20 data from countries where under-20 obesity is 1/2 or 1/3 of our rate.

                1. “At least in AZ, there ISN’T much spare capacity in ICU. That’s my point.”

                  Well, my point is _why_ is that the case? Apparently, there’s a similar situation in Houston, with ~97% of ICU beds occupied when it’s typically 70-80%. So, how much of it (in AZ, Houston, or elsewhere) is COVID-19 patients who _need_ the ICU; how much of it is COVID-19 patients (confirmed or suspected, as the text on that AZ chart noted) who are there due to convenient isolation; and how much of it is due to consequences of a surge in “non-essential” treatments deferred during the lockdowns? I haven’t found a breakdown for any of that, and it affects how we should interpret the availability of ICU beds.

                  Regarding fat Gen. Z fatalities, I wouldn’t be too concerned, given that septuagenarians have the worst co-morbidity, age, and even they are roughly 60% asymptomatic:

                  https://reason.com/2020/07/07/narcissists-psychopaths-and-manipulators-are-more-likely-to-engage-in-virtuous-victim-signaling-says-study/#comment-8335924

  4. “This wave seems to be driven largely by young people getting together in bars and at house parties, and perhaps also by low-risk individuals returning to work. It makes sense that people whose own risk of dying from COVID-19 is negligible would be less likely to wear masks and follow physical distancing guidelines. ”
    Yet the media can’t help fear-mongering the case counts
    “Meanwhile, the crude case fatality rate for Texas, which peaked at 3.4 percent on April 30, has continued to fall, reaching 0.5 percent yesterday”
    And doctors are figuring out how to treat it to avoid the worst outcomes. Hurray!

    1. To turn the adage around, “good news is no news”. Expecting the media NOT to select and hype numbers that encourage panic is a certain type of autism.

      1. Consistent, accurate reporting would be nice, but the media is just trying to make money. More clicks, more money, and nothing sells like sex and fear

        1. If it bleeds it leads.

          1. I make my living off the evening news
            Just give me something-something I can use
            People love it when you lose,
            They love dirty laundry

            Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
            I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear
            Come and whisper in my ear
            Give us dirty laundry

            [Chorus]
            Kick ’em when they’re up
            Kick ’em when they’re down
            Kick ’em when they’re up
            Kick ’em when they’re down
            Kick ’em when they’re up
            Kick ’em when they’re down
            Kick ’em when they’re up
            Kick ’em all around

            We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blond
            Who comes on at five
            She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
            It’s interesting when people die
            Give us dirty laundry

            Can we film the operation?
            Is the head dead yet?
            You know, the boys in the newsroom got a running bet
            Get the widow on the set!
            We need dirty laundry

            You don’t really need to find out what’s going on
            You don’t really want to know just how far it’s gone
            Just leave well enough alone
            Eat your dirty laundry

            [Chorus]

            Dirty little secrets
            Dirty little lies
            We got our dirty little fingers in everybody’s pie
            We love to cut you down to size
            We love dirty laundry

            We can do “The Innuendo”
            We can dance and sing
            When it’s said and done we haven’t told you a thing
            We all know that crap is king
            Give us dirty laundry!

            [Chorus, repeated]

      2. Really? What type of autism would that be? I know a few things about the subject, and I’ve never encountered that particular variety.

    2. To die from the infection can take froma few days to 100…so there is a lag between infections and deaths; also, there is another lag on when the death is reported and counted (“Complicating matters, there can be a weeks-long lag in many states between when someone dies and when that’s included in the daily reports. That means deaths could be on the rise days before states say they are.”

      The myth of youth invulnerability is refuted by the FACT that in states that re-opened early, like Texas, Arizona, and Florida, hospitalizations (ie those with serious illness due to infection) are up 400% in a matter of weeks. 1 in 5 hospitalized have died so far, so expect a skyrocketing death rate in about 2-4 weeks.

      Hospitalizations cannot be rationalized by the claim of more tests; healthy people are not hospitalized. A Broadway actor, aged 41 in good health, just died yesterday after his leg was amputated and he struggled for 95 days. The surge in hospitalizations guarantees a surge in deaths in a couple of weeks…..it’s time the deniers were locked up as menaces to public health.

      1. Certain death is always 2 weeks out.

        1. 14 to 20 days to see the leading edge of deaths caused by an increase in confirmed cases. The availability of ICU, ventilators, the additional information the medical community learns with each passing day, the age of those infected, and the immediacy of treatment all impact the final death toll from a spike in infections.

      2. I doubt the fatality rate will skyrocket. But young Americans are certainly as obese/overweight as their elders. Meaning that data that applies to the young in other countries where the young aren’t obese/overweight, is likely to surprise in a bad way when the virus hits that age group here as it looks like it is now doing. And when hospitalized they will tend to be hospitalized for longer. The old die – pretty quickly. The young will fill up hospitals for longer – which is what has a big impact on capacity. And the length of stay issue re capacity is the biggest sub-issue for the US. We are very used to churning patients through the system

      3. Citations conspicuously absent Jeff.

      4. healthy people are not hospitalized.

        Lolwut? You’re a retard.

      5. Texas, Arizona, and Florida, hospitalizations (ie those with serious illness due to infection) are up 400% in a matter of weeks.

        This is false.

        1 in 5 hospitalized have died so far

        This is also false.

      6. “1 in 5 hospitalized have died so far, “

        Where and age group, please.

      7. I wonder how hospitalization numbers are counted.
        Due to fear mongering by the media, if a person with mild symptoms goes to the hospital, would that increment the hospitalization number?

        1. “…if a person with mild symptoms goes to the hospital, would that increment the hospitalization number?

          Hey!!! No fair! You’ve played this game before!

          How Goddamn dumb do you have to be, to be a Doooooomm! believer at this point? March, early April, I could see it. But now? Officials want to re-close businesses, and force people to stay home? Especially after watching the city centers of most of the 50 biggest cities in America have an open-air temper tantrum for the last four weeks, with the police, mayors, and other officials standing around with thumbs up their asses, when they weren’t joining in the fun themselves?

          No. Let this country get back to work, if it’s not already too late.

      8. Ruffsoft…the lag was pretty non-existent back in March and April…one only has to look at the charts to see that. Still, for the last 3 weeks we have been told any day now the deaths will come, well not yet. Hospitalizations are up, but they were so low in places like Texas, that 400% increase is only a tiny fraction of the new cases.
        Meanwhile, the CDC reports annual excess deaths from all causes to be down from 106% to 102% for the year. Those reports do lag a bit, but the trend is certainly in the right direction.

      9. Nope.

        https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm

        171 deaths under the age of 25.

        8,401 deaths under the age of 55.

      10. You’re hilarious

      11. “it’s time the deniers were locked up as menaces to public health.”

        People who disagree with the ruling party’s opinion are always deemed to be menaces to the public somehow. That’s always how totalitarian regimes start. You’ve got some interesting company there on your side.

  5. The most obvious explanation is the one people like Sullum want to avoid. Packing together thousands of young (and middle-aged progtards) people, yelling their asses off, in close quarters without physical distance or masks….is going to lead to the result we have.

    The Wuhan coronavirus will spread. It doesn’t care about your ‘woke’ politics.

    1. Exactly! Notice the contortions the media and politicians are going through to minimize any connects between rising COVID-19 positive rates among young people and the protests. Its always attributed to going to the beach, or a bar, or a party. Hurry up and shut down the beaches and bars! We gotta stop the spread before everyone dies becaise selfish people dared to have a good time!

      Basically anyone breaking the rules for a noble cause is safe and the rest of us are definitely gonna catch WuFlu and kill innocent people. Um, nope. That’s not how science works. At least not real science. Maybe in social science world where feelings are now facts. And I say this as someone who studied history and poly sci. Back when facts and objectivity were still a thing. Not so long ago. What a difference a decade makes.

      1. It’s disappointing to see reason writers avoid this glaringly obvious connection. I guess they would also prefer to keep their jobs, but when a libertarian article about higher case rates in the young does not so much as MENTION the protests, you know we’re all fucked.

        Wrongthink rules the day.

        1. Glaringly obvious connection?

          Seriously, what is the correlation between the locations (within idk 20 miles or so) of those protests and the current outbreaks. Like the actual fucking R2

          1. Huge memorial for George Floyd in Houston and protests in Dallas. Huge protests in California. The Seattle campus of UW (CHAZ?CHOP?). Numerous protests in south Florida. There has been an increase in Illinois. Obviously this does not account for every new case, but to completely ignore it as a contributing factor is irresponsible. And if the protests did NOT cause the increases, why the fuck are we still social distancing? How can you believe that cases are increasing because people in Texas go tubing but not because people in Chicago engage in mass protests?

            I’m not going to do your math for you. If you’d like to correlate each increase with prior protests that occurred within 20 miles, be my guest. It also is unlikely that everyone at every protest actually live where the protest occurred.

            I’m not claiming to know. I’m simply saying that huge crowds followed by an increase in cases when “science” tells us we must socially distance ourselves is worth exploring, even if to rule it out. Either social distancing is unnecessary, or the protests were likely a contributing factor in the increase in cases among younger populations.

            1. It also is unlikely that everyone at every protest actually live where the protest occurred.

              It is even more unlikely that people went from mostly R areas to mostly D areas or vice versa in order to protest. Even something as vague as ‘California has a big increase in new cases’ is meaningless because CA is a big state. If the protests were somewhat concentrated in one area and the cases are somewhat concentrated in another, then in fact there is no basis whatsoever to assert that the protests led to the cases. Hell even within CA, a county like LA may be a meaningless level if the protests happened in Compton and the new cases are happening in Valley Girl land.

              I’m simply saying that huge crowds followed by an increase in cases when “science” tells us we must socially distance ourselves is worth exploring, even if to rule it out.

              I agree. And the way you start to rule it out or in is to find out if there’s actually a correlation there. Rather than simply repeat political narratives about what the cause must be and pretend that actual correlation must be meaningless compared to repeating political narratives.

              1. JFree….There is not a lot political about it. Why the crowds were there (in close quarters, not physically distant) doing what they were doing (yelling their asses off) is irrelevant. The conditions were quite good for viral transmission and that happened. That is merely objective reality.

                1. The conditions were quite good for viral transmission and that happened.

                  Yes I understand the conditions were quite good for viral transmission. But unless someone can point out the geographical correlations between those protests and the new case loads, then there is not necessarily any connection whatsoever with the last two words of that sentence.

                  Whether it did happen – or didn’t happen – is extremely useful info regardless of which way it turns out.

                  But avoiding finding that out – merely because it might upset one’s political narrative – is the height of anti-useful.

                  1. Here in CO, the counties with recent increases are Laramie (Fort Collins), El Paso (Colorado Springs), Mesa (Grand Junction), and Jefferson (Golden).

                    Only the latter would even remotely have had anything to do with the protests here – and it didn’t.

                    1. Edit – Mesa County is not having the big recent increase – Garfield County (Glenwood Springs) is. Which is far less likely than even Mesa to have anything to do with the protests.

          2. If the protests had no effect at all on the rising case numbers, neither did getting a tan at the beach. That seems like common sense.

            1. As long as we make sure we get the right political narrative for the virus, then that’s all that matters.

    2. There was no major spike in case counts when Florida and Texas reopened.
      There was no major spike in case counts when people hit the beaches for Memorial Day weekend.
      There was a spike in case counts 2 weeks after the protests.
      Just a coincidence I guess.

      1. The recent spike in warm weather states could be due to people staying indoors and running the AC though.

  6. >>In Texas

    everything is fine. 9.1 deaths per 100,000 and shrinking. go away.

  7. The current ensemble estimate of R-effective for California statewide is 1.08.
    https://calcat.covid19.ca.gov/cacovidmodels/

    1.11 is the highest estimate.

    1. I’m not fond of shoot the messenger attacks, but…BLAM BLAM!

      I mean, the site leads with Epstein wasn’t a suicide. Sheesh…

      Anyhow, unsurprisingly, the MSM has turned a blind-eye to Belarus. They were quick to the THEY’RE ALL GONNA DIE pile-on. But now…crickets.

    2. *ahem* Great Success!

  8. Once again, government kills people with kindness. If they’d just let all the young people get sick and over it then it probably wouldn’t be ravaging every single home for the elderly.

    Daily reminder that asymptomatic transmission between people who are not sharing bodily fluids is not a thing and thus all the mask panic is entirely useless performative medical theater.

    1. You first. Go on, find someone coughing up their lungs and give them a big kiss.

      How little it takes for libertarians to impose the most personal, risky, invasive collective responsibility on other people.

      1. u wot m8?

        If people aren’t coughing they probably aren’t sick and if they are they won’t get you sick unless you are doing something intimate with them. There’s no reason to wear a mask to the grocery store or for the 30 seconds between walking into a restaurant and when you sit down at your table.

      2. One of those asymptomatic people coughing up their lungs?
        If that’s asymptomatic, what would it take to have a symptom?

  9. The author is mostly right – the demographic shift plus new knowledge is reducing the case fatality rate. But the CFR is still pretty high – 3% or so. And, lots of people are still dying.

    But, the “projections were wrong” argument is intellectually dishonest or uninformed. The early projections were for the situation where no mitigation measures were taken. We cannot know if they are right or not, because that situation didn’t happen. We can know, from observing the situation in New York City, northern Italy, and Wuhan, that had those measures not been taken, hospitals would have been overwhelmed, driving the CFR up as care became unavailable for many.

    Today, we are headed in that direction again in some states, including Arizona where I live. Our hospitalizations, ICU use and ventilator use for COVID19 are at record levels and rising. Some hospitals are full, even after repurposing facilities such as endoscopy rooms into treatment rooms. Medical personnel have been brought in from out of state to man the additional ICU beds that had already been put in place.

    If the new (or renewed) mitigation measures don’t work, our hospitals will again be overrun.

    Plus, as viral prevalence increases, it becomes harder and harder to protect people, as the odds of transmission per interaction grow. Additionally, the hospitals will have to reduce or end non-emergency non-COVID procedures, plus medical staff will be repurposed from ordinary care to hospital jobs. All of this increases the danger from both COVID and from routine ailments.

    Lockdowns were probably a mistake, as they created a backlash. Sensible measures outside of lockdowns are what is needed. For example, in Arizona, most counties now have mask mandates – reasonable ones so you don’t have to wear a mask if you are outdoors away from others, for example. High density high spreading venues are now closed by government order – such as bars. This step was only taken after rampant abuse was observed in bars, in violation of social distancing and mask mandates.

    Other free countries have shown that the virus can be beaten back and contained without harsh mandates on individuals. Japan never had lockdowns. South Korea is containing outbreaks of imported cases after pretty much eliminating community spread. Thailand has almost eliminated the virus, as has Taiwan.

    Containment means that few people get sick from the virus, and even fewer die of it (or of side effects like overwhelmed hospitals). If a vaccine becomes available, the total toll will be far less than in countries that try for herd immunity, or that just don’t do a good enough job of mitigating spread to achieve containment.

    Put another way, the US looks pretty bad compared to these countries. Go to the 91-divoc.com site, and select cases (or deaths) per million, and observe the graphs.

    1. But the CFR is still pretty high – 3% or so

      Wrong.

      1. . The early projections were for the situation where no mitigation measures were taken

        Also wrong.

        That’s two blatant lies in your first few sentences socko.

    2. The only worthwhile thing you wrote is that the lockdowns were an overreaction. Farming communities and dense ghettos are not quite the same, and should have been treated differently. But Governors just HAD TO swing their big dicks (except MI of course) and send all their subjects into quarantine.

    3. “The early projections were for the situation where no mitigation measures were taken.”

      No. For example, Niel Ferguson’s original projection for US fatalities was up to 2.2 million without mitigations, and up to around one million with mitigation policies including isolating the elderly).

    4. Well we can know what might have have happened if the economy hadn’t been shut down. Sweden ran that experiment, and the fatality rate there is similar to other European countries that did wreck their economies.

  10. Yeah, funny how we learn as people die.

    We’re putting people on artificial Blood oxygenation “pool pumps” Because we’ve learned that forcing air through damaged lungs causes more harm than good.

  11. I worked in a health related field for over 40 years. We tracked the death rate closely and recorded influenza deaths every year as the #1 killer, with the US average somewhere between 50-60 thousand. It peaks my interest, and those of my former staff, that nowhere to be found is a number of deaths due to Asian Flu. I’m suspicious that EVERY flu related death is attributed to Wuhan specifically. If correct the numbers we see are highly inflated and cannot be trusted.

    1. Yes, context is everything. I see no reporting of the ‘normal’ flu death rate for a given day of year.

    2. Which members of your medical community call it the Asian flu?

      1. If you read it again you might notice his use of the past tense to describe his work activities. Given that, it is likely that his choice of terminology is his own, as he probably is no longer participating in a “medical community”. Since he recalled 40 years of such employment, it is likely he is retired.

        If you’d read a little better, you might comment a little better.

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  12. My skeptical mind started ringing alarm bells when I first heard of the current “spike”. It seems reasonable the test process today is different from the process in January. Is the positive rate today really directly comparable to last February? How has the test kit manufacturing process changed? How does the skill of the technician taking and handling the samples factor into the numbers? How many other factors changed?

    If the test process hasn’t significant changed over the past few months, then WTH have they been working on?

  13. For months, we have looked at statistics and models and predictions, and none have been right. One thing we have known from the beginning is that the death rate in the relatively young approaches zero. We were told we were flattening the curve. Now it seems we must wear masks until there is a vaccine.

    This is an ancient human arrogance – the idea that we can somehow conquer nature. Yes, we have antibiotics, and now we have resistant bacteria. We can buy electric cars, but if Yellowstone blows, we’re fucked. We should practice good hygiene, and clean up after ourselves. Reducing pollution is good for everyone. But viruses will come and go, and we cannot defeat them without near-universal vaccination. And even then it’s a matter of time. If someone were to release smallpox now, it would devastate the population. Our parents were inoculated, but we were not. The idea that we can make things “safe” is absurd.

    Being alive is risky, but far, far less risky than it used to be. Compared to plagues and epidemics of the past, it’s a joke. And it is all we have been talking about for months (with a lovely BLM detour along the way).

    1. “Now it seems we must wear masks until there is a vaccine.”

      Watch how fast that gets shitcanned if Biden wins in November. I will bet it will resemble a “We’ve always been at war with EastAsia,” moment.

      1. So if there are still masks you will blame Biden for that too, right?

    2. The probability that there will ever be an effective vaccine for SARS-COV-2 is much smaller than most people realize. It’s not zero, but there has never been an effective vaccine created for any coronavirus, regardless of the strain.

      1. Thus the old refrain about how we can land a man on the moon, but can’t cure the common cold.

      2. Nah, there’s one for bovine coronavirus. None for human pathogenic coronaviruses though. Odds are SARS-COV2 will mutate into something less pathogenic before a realistic vaccine makes it onto the market.

  14. “In Texas, newly confirmed cases rose 13-fold, from 623 to 8,258, between May 25 and July 4 before falling to 3,449 yesterday.”

    What Mr. Sullum doesn’t tell you is that during this period the Texas government switched from reporting just _actual_ cases to including “probable” cases as well. In other words, they’re inflating the numbers now, the same way they do with the death count.

    1. By the time this is all over the standard for being clear of the plague will be if less than 20 people who are Facebook friends with someone who lives in the state have heard the word “disease” at least once in their life.

  15. My suspicion is that a good percentage of the deaths in younger people comes from vaping THC. The oil that is used as a suspension is really bad for lung tissue. Pretty much shreds it.

  16. None of this is true. I have been assured by reputable outlets, such as CNN and the NYT, that we are all, each and every one of us, going to die from WuFlu, and it is Donald J Trump’s personal fault. Because he didn’t invent a test. Or something.

    1. Panicky people panicking about how they think the media is trying to make them panic never gets old. Burn all the masks, the media is recommending them!

      1. There are two – no, three reasons – why we should do the OPPOSITE:

        1) Media is pushing it. Right there your skeptical senses should go up.

        2) 4 in 5 scientists agree type signed letters to organizations like the WHO demanding mask wearing. 97% consensus up next!

        3) Politicians have all put masks on their avatars. Along with media, celebrities are lecturing people about it. How much you wanna bet media and political figures aren’t following any of their orders? You think, for example, here in Canada where we have a WHOPPING 200 total cases and three deaths, don’t know the statistics are negligible? Yet, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are making masks mandatory? It’s absurd and ANTI-SCIENCE.

        4) Jurisdictions are copy cats. Notice how they all just follow the same protocols ASSUMING they’re correct.

        5) Which brings me to the science. Unless Jacob can point me to one, but I’ve yet to see ANY literature (and I do browse around) that has empirically proven not if masks work (at best I’ve seen ‘they may prove beneficial’ and inconclusive), but social distancing as well. They say they follow science, but the scientific data they follow seem to be a laggard. And people applauding following the trailing science of politicians (think of it. Why is Montreal making mask mandatory starting July 27? It’s irrational. What exactly is the end game?) are following orders. If the science is so sound they wouldn’t resort to emotional please of ‘I do it to think of others’. Yeah. Sure. Now that’s science.

        6) I lied. Tsk, tsk.

        Taw, taw.

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  23. I would like to see the people who cheer on ‘muh lockdowns’ lose their jobs.

    Then we’ll see just how much they root for ‘muh lockdowns’.

    They should also be forced to meet face to face people who saw their lives ruined – or worse – and tell them ‘So sad but you know granny’.

  24. > On the face of it, that comparison does not suggest that California has been especially successful in reducing transmission, even though it led the nation in imposing sweeping legal restrictions on movement and economic activity, which it has been lifting only gradually.

    No, it suggests that even Californians, who seem to love big government based on how they vote, are sick and tired of being mollycoddled.

  25. Two major factors at play. First, those getting it now are much younger and likely to be asymptomatic or have mild cases that don’t require hospitalization and clear quickly. This is a good thing as it gets us closer to the herd immunity that will stop this. Second, sadly many of the most vulnerable were killed during the first wave back in March and April. This led to a lot of early deaths and drove up the fatality rate but also reduced that population. Nursing homes were hurt particularly hard. Since those victims have already died or survived the virus, there are fewer to die from it now as evidenced by the falling death rate.

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  27. Ignore the death rates.
    Continue to wear your face diaper, hide in the trunk of your car and show your solidarity with the Chicken Little crowd as the sky continues to fall.

  28. During that same period, the number of daily deaths, which peaked at 2,749 on April 21, fell from 636 to 251.

    You should at least be using the 7 day averages, currently sitting around 510, when reporting numbers.

    Since there is a lag of about two weeks between laboratory confirmation and death, we can expect to see daily fatalities rise during the next few weeks.

    The rise in cases started four weeks ago and the daily fatalities have yet to increase.

  29. I was saying by thanksgiving 2019 that our overreaction was gonna be worse than the actual virus. Id be dying of schadenfreude if I didn’t have to live to live through it too.

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  31. This article is old. Death rate is now going up.
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

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