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Covid-19's Dramatic Death Decline

By Brian Woolf
September 30, 2020

Covid-19's death rate has dropped dramatically-approx. 30% Since June 30!

During the 16 weeks ending Jun 30, the 50 US states suffered weekly an average 7,902 Covid-19 (CV)-related deaths. The next 8 weeks (to Aug 25), saw average weekly deaths drop 20% to 6,329.  Then in the following 4 weeks (to Sep 22), average weekly deaths averaged 5,620, an 11% decline from the 8-week Aug 25 period. This meant a decline of 29% from the 16-week period (to June 30.). Those two consecutive drops are dramatic-and a surprise, given the fear flowing from news headlines.

To recap, average weekly Covid-19 deaths were:

16 w/e Jun 30-7,902

8 w/e Aug 25-6,329. Down 20%.

4 w/e Sep 22-5,620. Down 11% from Aug 25. Down 29% from Jun 30.

To allow easy benchmarking the following table shows, in alphabetical sequence, detailed data for each state. [Its two parts allow easier printing.]

You will see for each state: 

  ·      CV deaths (col C-E) for the three periods: Mar 10 - Jun 30 (16 weeks); Jul - Aug 25 (8 weeks); and Aug 26 - Sep 22 (4 weeks).   

  ·      CV average deaths per week (col F-H) for these three periods.

  ·      Change (%) in weekly deaths of the 8 wk period vs the base 16 wk period (col I).

  ·      Change (%) in weekly deaths of the 4 wk period vs the base 16 wk period (col J).

  ·      Deaths for the whole 28 weeks expressed as the number of deaths in an "average town" of 10,000 people (col B).

The last-mentioned column, showing deaths per 10,000 people, is important because it allows us to compare states on a comparable basis, regardless of size. For example, in col B, let's compare our lowest death-rate state, Alaska, with our highest, New Jersey. We see that, for every 10,000 people in AK, less than one person (0.6) died in the 28-week period, Mar 10-Sep 22; in the same period, for every 10,000 people in NJ, an average of 18.2 people died from CV. NJ's rate was 30 times higher than AK's.

As discussed in earlier articles (see some possibilities that explain this huge gap include population density (people per square mile)-NJ is the most densely populated state while AK is the least; and AK, separated from the rest of the other 49 states, was able to operate a quarantine system for people entering the state. You will likely enjoy the exercise of thinking what might be contributing to the differences in "deaths per 10,000" in col B. 

States in Blue and Green

In my previous article, Comeback Kids and Firebirds were compared. The former five states (marked in the table in blue) are those whose average weekly death rates fell the most from the base of 16 weeks in the following 8 weeks. The Firebirds (in green) were the opposite, those experiencing the biggest increase in weekly death rates.

This table also lets us see which states were able to hold or improve their great performance, or start reversing their disappointing performance in the subsequent 4 weeks (to Sep 22). We find:

Of the Comeback Kids, CT, MA, NJ, and NY all had even deeper drops in their death rates (compared to base) than in the 8-week period (see col J vs col I.) Only RI didn't extend its gain.

Of the Firebirds, FL, SC, and TX began their correction path while ID and MT suffered further increases in their weekly deaths (see col J vs col I.)

Both groups added to the overall improvement in reducing the average weekly death rate of the 50-states in the 4 w/e Sep 22, a positive sign.

An interesting point you may have noticed when looking at the results of the Comeback Kids vs the Firebirds is that the former, despite their dramatic reduction in death rates have, as a group, a significantly higher death rate per 10,000 people than the latter (ie, 12.6, 13.5, 18.2, 17.1, 10.4 vs.  6.2, 2.5, 1.5, 6.2, 5.3.)

 [See to read about more the Comeback Kids and Firebirds.]   

Closing Comments

A table such as the attached is a mental feast for those interested in understanding Covid-19. Not only does it show deaths in total and per week, but period improvements and regressions are also easy to see. Further, a balanced perspective is gained by having the associated death rate included. The ability to quickly compare key death data of all states is also invaluable.

But that's not all. With a rich table like this, questions start popping. For example:

  ·      How many of the states lowered their weekly death rates from period to period? (Answer:  24 from Jun 30 to Aug 25; and 22 from Aug 25 to Sep 22)

  ·      How many states lowered their weekly death rates in two consecutive periods? (Answer:  An impressive 13)

  ·      How many states increased their weekly death rates in two consecutive periods? (Answer:  A concerning 17)

  ·      Then the deeper questions follow: Which states populated the above answers? Why? What lessons can be shared with all states?

And similar questions can be asked about Tests and Cases from similar tables. 

Remember: Facts create knowledge. Knowledge leads to progress.

Copyright © 2020 - 2022 Brian Woolf

About the author...

Besides a full business life in retailing, and later, loyalty marketing, the other part of Brian Woolf's life has been filled with diverse interests: particularly speaking (including Toastmasters), travel (including all seven continents), and reading (including history). And he has written seven books sharing what he has learned along the journey. Ask him, two favorite trips? Antarctica and the Nile. Ask him, two favorite books? The Lessons of History (Will & Ariel Durant) and Over the Edge of the World (Laurence Bergreen). He loves learning and sharing.

Copyright © 2022 Brian Woolf