In the US, average weekly Covid-19 deaths have quietly, but steadily, been dropping. The most recent 4-week period (ended Oct 20) shows weekly deaths dramatically down 37.7% from the first 16 weeks of reporting (ended June 30). Great news!
Surprise - it's unexpected. The constant barrage of negative CV news headlines, without even a hint that overall death rates were declining, had led us to believe the virus is getting worse rather than better in the US.
Contrast -while deaths per week have been declining in the US's 50 states, tests and cases per week have been growing significantly. In other words, Covid deaths have dropped while Covid tests have tripled and Covid cases have doubled. Very simply, since July 1 we've had a lot more tests and cases-yet fewer deaths. Why? A jump in asymptomatic cases? Fewer highly-susceptible people? Growing herd immunity? Better medical care of Covid cases? We're learning how to better manage Covid? We don't know for sure.
But we do know that One fact can prick many balloons of opinion.
Tests, Cases, and Deaths
To illustrate the interrelationship of tests, cases, and deaths, Table 2 shows their weekly averages in the initial ("Base") 16-week period to June 30 and the three following shorter periods (also totaling 16 weeks) from July 1 to October 20.
The table also tells us that, while weekly tests jumped, the ratio of cases to tests fell significantly from 8.0% in the Base period to 4.9% in the 4 w/e Oct 20. [164,650 / 2,063,009 = 8.0%; 338,884 / 6,899,486 = 4.9%]
Other data shows that the chance of dying after being infected has dropped by a huge two-thirds. In the Base period, 4.8% of cases ended in death [see row 1: 7,902 / 164,650 = 4.8%]; most recently, in the 4-weeks ending Oct 20, that had fallen by two-thirds to 1.5% [see row 4: 4,920 / 338,884 = 1.5%]!
In an earlier article, The Comeback Kids and Firebirds, I discussed the two competing forces involved in the big changes between the Base and following period: the NY-centric states were recovering from weeks of high CV deaths, while some other states were hit with outbreaks of Covid hotspots. Result? The five Comeback Kids' average weekly deaths dropped 82-94%, while the five Firebirds' average weekly deaths increased 300-700%. (See Table 3.)
· New York dived 91% from 1,969 to 184 weekly deaths in consecutive periods
· New Jersey dived 88% from 947 to 112 weekly deaths
The other three Comeback Kids did likewise. And all five states have subsequently held onto their new low, weekly death numbers, as seen in Table 3's first 5 rows.
The Firebird states (see bottom 5 rows), by definition, had the highest increase in average weekly deaths in the period following the Base. For example:
· Texas's new deaths per week of 1,179 was 7.7x that of its 152-death Base
· South Carolina's new 222 deaths per week was 4.8x that of its 46-death Base
· Florida's new 884 deaths per week was 4.0x of its 219-death Base
Such overnight big jumps ring bells among a state's leadership team and so it did for these five. The cause was primarily hotspot outbreaks (eg, large crowds). Containment and correction plans were immediately activated.
And here's what happened between August and October:
· Texas and South Carolina cut their highs in half (1,179 to 586 and 222 to 112)
· Florida dropped its new high weekly rate 25% (884 to 651)
Now, be cautioned that hotspot turnarounds don't always happen on schedule as it did for these three. Some do, some doggedly keep increasing for a while, and some others go up and down like the teeth on a saw-blade. In Table 4, I have added for you examples of some that caught my eye.
Several lessons I have learned from the first 32 weeks of Covid data.
· Expect to be severely hit at some stage. Plan for it; pray it doesn't happen.
· There is no one single best response to beat CV at this time. The 10 states discussed here had different responses, eg, some had Lockdowns, others didn't.
· Don't place all your hope in a cure-all vaccine (Dr Fauci has stated it may be as little as 50-60% effective.)
· Develop a plan you and your team believe in.
· The coming 12 months is likely to see a continuation of hotspot outbreaks. However, by applying the accumulating lessons learned, I expect the trend of declining average weekly deaths to continue.
· If you are interested in the underlying data in this paper and the results for each of the 50 states, it will be posted to my website ... www.brianwoolf.com
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.