The following summary and its attached report are the fourth 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, and the third report can be found here.
Using data current as of May 5, 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. 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, 2.31% 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 around 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 40% 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 5.5% for the US. It tends to be higher for populations with comorbidities and advanced ages. MI is currently experiencing the highest rate at 9.4% with CT, MN, 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. Since infection day, CA and WA have not experienced nearly as much growth in cases as NY. Case rates, which follow the amount of testing that has been completed, has also given some insights into the conditions in different states. NY, RI, NJ, MA, and CT are decelerating in terms of cases – while mostly testing at similar or increased rates – which indicates improvement. However, some states have not seen a deceleration in new cases, many of which are in the Midwest – IA, IL, NE. The acceleration of cases is used to classify where each state is with regard to the outbreak situation. Many are improving – that is, these states have a negative new case acceleration such as NY, MI, and GA – but most states are still in a linear stage of new cases with new case acceleration near 0. Some states, however, remain in a growth period where the daily new cases are still accelerating. NE, MN, IA, IL, and VA make up this subgroup. Death velocities, while not directly following the number of cases, does peak about 5-7 days after peaks in case velocities. Many states are still seeing an acceleration in deaths, but states such as NY, NJ, and CT are experiencing a slowdown. 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. To read an unabridged version of the results, please see the attached report for a complete view of specific states.
Overall, the United States has reached an initial “peak” in new Case Velocity, new Case Acceleration has turned negative and new Death Acceleration has been dropping across the US for the past week. 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 in a growth stage – some being exponential, most being linear growth. Several states have entered or are soon to begin improving, as their new Case Accelerations have fallen below zero. Although some states appear to be improving soon according to new Case Accelerations, falling Testing Velocities in these states may be falsely indicating an improvement in new Cases. An example of such a state is Florida. Reduced mobility from lockdowns and social distancing measures continues to be strongly correlated with the deceleration of new cases.
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. 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 monitored moving forward. Monitoring these trends will be important as states have begun reopening their economies in the past week. States such as GA, TX, SC, IA, and IN have all begun their first phase of economic reopening.
Assessing the Business Impacts
As state reopening and a gradual easing of certain social distancing and lockdown measures have begun, economic activity across the state will begin to rebound. About half of all states have begun to reopen their economies, with various businesses such as restaurants and retail stores having their closure orders lifted with some restrictions. Looking at three states – GA, TX, and IA, all of which are in different stages of the outbreak – will give a view into how each is handling reopening and what the potential outcomes could be. GA, currently in an improving stage with regards to the outbreak, began reopening on April 24 by opening certain service areas like gyms and salons with the reopening of restaurants and theaters on April 27. The first phase of reopening has been in place for almost two weeks now, and daily new cases have seen a slight deceleration over the course of that period. Some of that may be attributed to Georgians staying home regardless of the state of GA’s lockdown measures. Monitoring how GA’s economy revives in the coming weeks and the impact of COVID-19 on both the population and economy after reopening will continue to be monitored. TX, in comparison to GA, was not improving but instead has had a slight increase in daily cases for some time now. According to the Texas Business Outlook Survey conducted by the Federal Reserve of Dallas, the service sector diffusion index fell from 14.0 in February to -67.0 in March. 83% of retailers, which are included in the index, saw a decline in sales from February to March. Reopening the state will help with some issues in both sales across verticals and with employment issues for both employers and employees alike. Unlike GA, TX has also suffered greatly under the slowed growth of the energy sector due to various factors including the pandemic. How TX rebounds from the outbreak will be monitored for both the economic value that reopening brings and how reopening effects the state that was still increasing its number of new cases daily. IA, its plan to reopen the state, and the current conditions in IA surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak are different than both TX and GA. IA is still currently experiencing a high acceleration in daily new cases which is much different than the current circumstances in both GA and TX which are close to or have begun improvement. The difference in IA is its reopening plan. GA and TX have, across their respective states, begun to reopen various types of businesses. In IA, a similar plan for reopening businesses has been implemented, but in only 77 of the state’s 99 counties – avoiding those counties that are most heavily hit. IA has been an area of importance as meat production has suffered from shutdowns in the state and others, as some 25% of pork and 10% of beef production has stopped due to work restrictions in IA and other states. Monitoring these states and others in various phases of both the outbreak and reopening will help inform decision-makers moving forward and help inform business owners on the potential outcomes across the country and around their locations.
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. Various other countries have experiences that may be pertinent to the US moving forward. South Korea is beginning to emerge and restart both the economic and social aspects of daily life. Other countries impacted at a similar level to the US, like Italy and Spain, have begun to restart social life and other business aspects, albeit on a slower timescale than some US states. Other locations, like New Zealand and Australia, are beginning to restart their domestic economies while keeping borders shut. All these experiences can inform the US moving forward with expectations and timelines in the future.
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
Casselman, Ben. “Reopening Has Begun. No One Is Sure What Happens Next.” The New York Times. The New York Times, April 25, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/25/business/economy/coronavirus-economy-reopening.html
Fite, Elizabeth. “Georgia Gov. Kemp Balances Health Effects of Unemployment, COVID-19 in State’s Reopening Plan.” timesfreepress.com, May 4, 2020. https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2020/may/04/kemp-health-effects-unemployment/522189/
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
Pfannenstiel, Brianne, and Stephen Gruber-Miller. “Kim Reynolds Defends Reopening Process despite Report Warning of ‘Second Wave’ of Coronavirus Infections.” Des Moines Register. Des Moines Register, April 29, 2020. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/health/2020/04/29/iowa-gov-kim-reynolds-coronavirus-covid-19-update-black-hawk-meatpacking-iowa-reopening-restrictions/3037825001/
“Texas Economic Activity Suddenly Contracts in March; Outlook Worsens Due to COVID-19.” Dallasfed.org. Accessed May 6, 2020. https://www.dallasfed.org/research/economics/2020/0331
“Total COVID-19 Tests, Confirmed Cases and Deaths per Million People.” Our World in Data. Accessed May 6, 2020. https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid-tests-cases-deaths-per-million