The following summary and its attached report are the fifth 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, the second report can be found here, the third report can be found here, and the fourth can be found here.
Using data current as of May 11, new trends and patterns are emerging as more data is collected giving a more complete view of the situation the country finds itself in. included in this report are updated results for testing, cases, and deaths, updated 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. This summary will highlight some of the findings concerning states’ testing, cases, deaths, and the direction that all three are trending. Additionally, the summary will examine how other regions, both domestically and internationally, that are emerging from quarantines and lockdowns can inform the US of its possible outcomes and timescales, considering the trends seen today.
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.
Currently, 2.87% 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 in the Northeast are leading the country with testing rates above 6% whereas states such as TX and SC remain closer to 2%. Case rates around the country also vary widely, with some states reaching greater than a 30% case rate. The true rate is probably much lower, but because every individual cannot be tested at this time, the true rate is unknown. Death rates, or the rate of positive cases that result in morbidity, is currently 5.6% for the US. It tends to be higher for populations with co-morbidities and advanced ages. MI is currently experiencing the highest rate at 9.6% with CT and LA following closely behind.
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. Overall, the US appears to have peaked with new cases flattening over the last month with deaths following similar trends. NY, RI, NJ, MA, CT, and DE are decelerating in terms of cases – while testing at similar or increased rates – which indicates improvement. However, some states have seen a slight acceleration of cases. There has also been a surge in testing over the past month, which may point to the case acceleration for some states.
The acceleration or deceleration of cases is used to classify where each state is with regards to the outbreak situation. Many are improving – that is, these states have a negative new case acceleration such as NY, MI, GA, and FL. A few states have reached a preliminary “contained” stage, where acceleration is near zero with a low velocity for cases. Many states, however, are still in a linear growth stage of new cases with new case acceleration near 0. States in this subgroup include TX, SC, and CA. Death velocities, while not directly following case rates, peak about 5-7 days after peaks in case velocities. Last week, most states were still experiencing an acceleration of deaths; this week, most states are seeing a plateau or deceleration in deaths. Across the country, the positive trend recently of increasing testing while cases have remained flat has been a good sign. 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. To read an unabridged version of the results, please see the attached report for a complete view on specific states and counties.
The United States continues to see a decreasing number of new cases and new deaths. With the recent acceleration in testing, a small acceleration in cases is expected proportionate to testing but this does not necessarily precipitate a proportionate increase in deaths. In terms of new cases, most states remain in a linear growth stage while many have entered a stage of improvement – negative new case acceleration. Indications from new case velocities and accelerations point to longer recovery periods than those of rapid acceleration experienced in March and April. The duration of these recovery periods for more heavily populated states will be monitored as more and more regions emerge from the worst of the outbreak. This trend is in line with what other countries across the world experienced with COVID-19. Overall, the effects of reduced mobility from lockdowns and social distancing measures continue to be strongly correlated with the deceleration of new cases.
Several states have had remarkable success in flattening their initial growth-rate curves of per-capita cases and deaths – such as CA and WA – and will be continually reported on moving forward. Monitoring these trends will be important as states have begun reopening their economies in the past week. Greater than 60% of states have begun reopening with each in a different spot with regards to the outbreak.
Assessing the Business Impact
Domestically, states have begun reopening despite being in various conditions of the outbreak, good and bad. Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, and Vermont all appear to have successfully contained the virus for the time being and all have either reopened or are reopening soon. Conversely, South Dakota and Arkansas still appear to have an increasing outbreak. Every other state is somewhere in between. Currently, data is being collected on how reopening has affected the economies of their respective states. Changes in the outbreak in the states that have reopened have begun to present themselves as more time passes. Georgia, with its reopening on April 24, has continually been improving at a slow pace while testing in GA appears to be nearing a plateau. Nearly all businesses have been given the green light to reopen, albeit with limited capacity, besides bars, nightclubs, and live performance venues. Texas, which reopened on April 30, continues to have an increasing number of new cases and deaths with testing plateauing across the state. Similarly to GA, TX reopened nearly all businesses with a few to remain closed. The prevailing challenge between these two states and around the country is that not all populations are comfortable returning to in-person centered businesses and that not all places of business are able to generate enough revenue with current measures like limited capacity. These issues will play out and wider economic trends – positive or negative – will come to light as more time passes in these places and as others begin to reopen.
Internationally, countries have begun to reopen their economies and lift lockdowns to varying degrees of success. Viewing how various locations around the country and the world reopen will inform how business can begin restarting across the US, what the economic impact of lockdown was, and the outlook of the economy moving forward. South Korea, a country with one of the highest testing rates per-capita, recently reopened many parts of social and economic life in the past week. The country, however, closed bars and nightclubs for a second time after a string of outbreaks related to various nightclubs across the capital city, Seoul. The country is responding to new outbreaks with contact tracing and testing with a continued focus on social distancing and proper hygiene. Germany has also begun reopening businesses as its lockdown has been partially lifted. In addition to monitoring transmission rates, Germany has instituted in its local government a lockdown trigger, where if more than 50 new cases per 100,000 people occur, the easing of the lockdown in the local area will stop. Recently, however, the transmission rate has rebounded to indicate an increased spread across the country, prompting talks of reinstituting lockdowns. These measures in South Korea and Germany – countries with similar testing and response measures as the US as a whole – give light on how reopening will affect the people and which businesses are more likely to experience issues with reopening.
Outside of the greater economic impact of the lockdowns across the US, some consumer trends from the outbreak have become apparent. Mastercard recently said that contactless payments jumped 40% during the first quarter of 2020 with online payments also jumping 40% in the first quarter year-over-year. This continues a global trend of moving away from physical payment methods – be it cash or swiping physical cards in-store. Some countries have taken banknotes out of circulation, some have attempted cleaning banknotes or even destroying them. Some stores across the US have stopped accepting cash in their stores altogether. With spending habits changing for the US consumer, these new trends in the payment method will have major effects on business as the economy reemerges from lockdown.
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
Mervosh, Sarah, and Jasmine C. Lee. “See Which States Are Reopening and Which Are Still Shut Down.” The New York Times. The New York Times, April 25, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/states-reopen-map-coronavirus.html
Proctor, Clare. “Balancing ‘Caution and Pent-up Demand’: Texans Face Health Risks and Financial Woes as State’s Battered Economy Slowly Reopens.” The Texas Tribune, May 1, 2020. https://www.texastribune.org/2020/04/30/texas-reopening-coronavirus/
Smith-Spark, Laura. “The Two Countries That Show Life beyond Lockdown Isn’t What People Think It Will Be.” CNN. Cable News Network, May 8, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/08/health/germany-south-korea-easing-coronavirus-measures-intl/index.html
Nienaber, Michael. “Merkel Urges Prudence as Germany’s Infection Rate Remains Critical.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, May 11, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-germany-protests/anti-lockdown-protests-threaten-germanys-coronavirus-battle-politicians-idUSKBN22N1OP?il=0
Rooney, Kate. “Contactless Payments Jump 40% as Shoppers Fear Germs on Cash and Credit Cards, Mastercard Says.” CNBC. CNBC, April 29, 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/29/mastercard-sees-40percent-jump-in-contactless-payments-due-to-coronavirus.html
Kelly, Samantha Murphy. “Dirty Money: The Case against Using Cash during the Coronavirus Outbreak.” CNN. Cable News Network, March 7, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/07/tech/mobile-payments-coronavirus/index.html