COVID-19 Trends by State: April 30 Update

The following summary and its attached report are the third of an ongoing series by the W. Capra Data Science team on the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the industries we service over time.  The first report can be found here and the second report can be found here.

Introduction

The following summary and its attached report are the third of an ongoing series by the W. Capra Data Science team on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the industries we service over time. Using data current as of April 29, new trends and patterns are emerging as more data is collected giving a more complete view of the situation the country finds itself in. Updates in this report include results for testing, cases, and deaths, conclusions, and categorizations of each state’s current circumstances. Furthermore, a broader view of county level data is available, which looks at the top 100 counties in the country by cases and deaths.

A note before we begin: This outbreak and the data surrounding it changes daily. This report was created when looking at the outbreak as a data problem that might benefit from data driven solutions and insights. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical or safety advice, nor is it a recommendation on outbreak response currently in place in various locations around the country. Individual assessment of local laws and current official government and health guidance should be reviewed before making any decisions.

Analysis

Currently, 1.77% of the entire US population has been tested. This is very small from a sampling perspective, but not too far off from the rest of the world. The distribution of these tests is also very unevenly distributed – states such as NY and MA are leading the country with testing rates between 3 and 4% whereas states such as KS and VA remain at or below 1%. The ability to test wide populations quickly will be crucial to not only achieving containment but also maintaining it. Initial decelerations of cases and deaths is good sign; however, until states have the capacity to test people at the appropriate scales, states will continue to be at risk of resurgences in COVID-19 cases/deaths.

Case rates around the country also vary widely, with some states reaching greater than a 45% case rate. The true rate is probably much lower, but because every individual cannot be tested at this time, the rate is an unknown. NY, NJ, and CT lead the country in case rates – likely due to the transmissibility of the virus along with the population density of those states.

Death rates, or the rate of positive cases that result in morbidity, is currently 5.13% for the US. It tends to be higher for populations with comorbidities and advanced ages. MI is currently experiencing the highest rate at 9.1% with CT and MN following closely behind. States such as WA and LA have a relatively high death rate, but that is mostly due to how COVID-19 had an outsized impact on older populations early and has since spread more evenly through the population.

Growth

Although it is still early in the growth curve of the disease, a framework is in continual development for evaluating the severity of the disease and success of treatment among the states. To be able to compare states against each other, they must be viewed by looking at rates or taking a per-capita approach, although looking at total numbers overtime can reveal trends as well. Time among all states is normalized by using a baseline “infection day”, which equals the first day when the state had reported more than 100 positive cases cumulatively. Because of this, the entire US total is sometimes lower than that of other states.

The growth of positive cases is directly tied to testing availability, but trends are emerging to see how transmission rates might differ between different states. Since infection day, CA and WA have not experienced nearly as much growth in cases as NY. A notable factor in these differences has to do with NY administering more tests per capita (4,346 per 100,000 people) than CA (1,446) or WA (2,304). The slow growth may also point to the successes CA and WA have had with early implementations of lockdowns and social distancing measures. In fact, WA appears to be reaching its initial “peak” in Case Velocity. NY and NJ appear to be approaching their “peak” in Case Velocity. Not only are new cases in NY and NJ leveling off, but so are state-wide deaths.

Similarly, the growth in deaths is in viewed against “infection day”. Deaths in CA and WA are growing at a much slower rate. This can be attributed to early lockdowns, proper social distancing, and lower population density. Deaths in LA were starting to outpace NY and the US at large due to a spike in the data, but LA deaths have since started to level off. In terms of death rate, MI has performed the worst over the past seven days and is approaching NY in terms of death rate. Please see the attached report for more detailed information on the current accelerations of each state.

The US appears to be peaking in terms of test and case growth acceleration, while deaths appear to have begun decelerating. A positive trend recently has been the increase and acceleration of testing while cases have remained flat.  A lag time exists between testing and receiving results, but current results indicate an overall good trend as testing is increasing and cases are remaining flat.  If testing capacity is opening, hopefully testing for patients with less severe symptoms can increase, and eventually reach asymptomatic individuals as well. To compare specific states’ velocities and accelerations, please reference the State Comparisons section in the attached report.

Conclusions

Overall, the United States has reached an initial “peak” in new Case Velocity and new Case Acceleration has turned negative and new Death Acceleration has been dropping across the US.  With the recent acceleration in testing, a small acceleration in cases is expected in the coming days proportionate to testing, but this does not necessarily precipitate a proportionate increase in deaths.  In terms of new cases, most states are currently either in Stage 1 (Exponential Growth) or Stage 2 (Linear Growth). Several starts have entered or are soon to enter Stage 3 (Improving), as their new Case Accelerations have fallen below zero. Although some states appear to be entering Stage 3 (Improving) according to new Case Accelerations, falling Testing Velocities in these states may be falsely indicating improvement in new Cases. An example of such a state is Florida.

Early indications from new Case Velocity and Acceleration following the initial US “peak” are that the deceleration of new cases will take place over a much longer period of time than the rapid acceleration of new cases that led to the “peak.” In simpler terms, it appears that the recovery following the initial “peak” will take significantly longer than the duration of the Exponential Growth and Linear Growth stages. This trend is in line with what other countries across the world experienced with COVID-19. Louisiana represents an outlier in that it encountered both a rapid acceleration AND a rapid deceleration of new cases within a short period of time. We hypothesize that this may have been caused by a short, high-impact infection event, such as Mardi Gras celebrations.

Assessing the Business Impact

This week the first state reopenings have occurred and the economic stimulus package sent out its first checks around the country. These measures and others have had an outsized effect on various verticals, particularly the retail and e-commerce industries. This past week, convenience stores have seen increased spending from the previous week for the first time since most states implemented lockdowns according to NACS. The timing has coincided with the arrival of stimulus checks, which were first disbursed on April 15. Overall spending and trips are lower than the previous year, but improvements have begun, with dollars spent up 3.9% from the week before. These changes in spending may have caused a permanent change in consumer shopping habits according to NACS.  Price sensitivity will remain high moving forward, with a continuation of the shift to e-commerce that has been spurred forward with consumers trying to stay safe and stay home. Takeout and delivery options will remain popular for restaurants with the growth of curbside pickups for grocery and other retailers to continue their rapid growth – increase usage of 208% in April from the previous year. 

Moving forward, viewing how various locations around the country and the world reopen will inform how business can begin restarting across the US and what the economic impact was of lockdown and the outlook of the economy moving forward. States – GA, AK, OK, and SC – have reopened in the past week with many others – CO, MN, TX, and others – are set to reopen some businesses in the next week.  Major retail trade groups have been calling for uniform reopening standards among governors this week, with the Retail Industry Leaders Association delivering a three-phased plan to reopen and maintain safety of employees and patrons to the desks of governors across the country.  Looking elsewhere, various other countries have experiences that may be pertinent to the US moving forward.  Sweden largely shunned widespread lockdown and business closure measures while the rest of Europe enacted measures to contain the virus.  Sweden’s strategy was to slow the outbreak to help hospitals cope through voluntary measures.  Fewer people in Sweden have died relative to size than Britain and France but far more than other Nordic countries like Denmark and Norway.  However, the Swedish economy is still on track for a 4% contraction this year. These effects may be what are seen in states that are beginning to reopen as community spread has not been fully contained in the US.  Looking even further ahead, Australia and New Zealand are beginning to reopen their economies as community spread has been contained in those locations. These countries are beginning by reopening various parts of the economy but not opening social lives. Seeing how the two countries’ strategies for controlling the virus and the economic impact moving forward will be a development to watch.

For further discussion of data modeling or anticipated COVID-19 business impacts, contact the W. Capra Data Science team:

Nate at nrao@wcapra.com

Stu at sgreenlee@wcapra.com

Sources

Data from The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies. (2020, April 6). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

The COVID Tracking Project. (2020, April 6). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from https://covidtracking.com/

COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, Google, https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/

Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties in the United States, U.S. Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-counties-total.html#par_textimage_739801612

Nacs. “Stimulus Checks Boost C-Store Spending.” convenience.org. NACS Daily, April 28, 2020. https://www.convenience.org/Media/Daily/2020/Apr/28/1-Stimulus-Checks-Boost-C-Store-Spending_Research?utm_content=NACS

Nacs. “Consumers Reset Shopping Habits.” convenience.org. NACS Daily, April 29, 2020. https://www.convenience.org/Media/Daily/2020/Apr/29/2-Consumers-Reset-Shopping-Habits_Operations?utm_content=NACS

Thomas, Lauren. “Curbside Pickup at Retail Stores Surges 208% during Coronavirus Pandemic.” CNBC. CNBC, April 27, 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/27/coronavirus-curbside-pickup-at-retail-stores-surges-208percent.html

Nacs. “States Vary on Reopening Protocols.” convenience.org. NACS Daily, April 28, 2020. https://www.convenience.org/Media/Daily/2020/Apr/28/3-States-Vary-on-Reopening-Protocols_Operations?utm_content=NACS

Ahlander, Johan. “Sweden Eyes Benefits of Spurning Lockdown in the Face of Pandemic.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, April 22, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-sweden/sweden-eyes-benefits-of-spurning-lockdown-in-the-face-of-pandemic-idUSKCN2242BO

Charlton, Emma. “How New Zealand and Australia Are Tackling COVID-19.” World Economic Forum. Accessed April 29, 2020. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/have-new-zealand-and-australia-won-the-battle-against-covid-19/