Here is the short cut to the full COVID report for Wednesday.

The USA’s same-day-of-week comparison of “new cases” has now dropped for 28 consecutive days, and the percentage drop has been in double digits for 16 consecutive days.

The 7-day average of positive testing percentage again dropped. It is now at 3.1%, setting another all-time low.

Those are signs of great progress, but all is not hunky-dory:

There were 841 fatalities reported on Wednesday, compared to just 743 last Wednesday. That broke a long streak of days in which the week-on-week was going in the correct direction. Oklahoma topped the nation by a wide margin in COVID fatalities per capita. That marks the second time this week that Oklahoma has been far higher than the second-highest state. This is either a sudden outbreak or some kind of reporting irregularity, because just two days ago, the Oklahoma City ABC affiliate crowed: “Oklahoma is only state with a 50% decrease in new COVID-19 in the past week compared to the previous week.” I guess we will need time to sort that one out.

17 thoughts on “COVID update

  1. Agree with your optimism, Scoopy. It seems there will be places with few cases (“herd immunity”). Likely many of them, maybe almost everywhere. I don’t expect that condition to be rock solid. As long as there’s virus somewhere else & a vulnerable subpopulation, the case rate “temperature” will fluctuate. But high degree of immunity ought to act as a brake (“flatten the curve”). Fingers crossed.

    Case in point: SF is 50% vaccinated, 75% at least 1 shot. Low level of hesitancy. Vaccine outreach was ubiquitous. Localized herd immunity seems a lock.

    Latin America: 8% of world population. 35% of covid deaths.

    India: People dying not because oxygen supply is short, there’s enough generators. Just not enough cylinders. Victims choking to death while standing in line needing oxygen. Or if not, when they do get into the hospital, they’re too far gone for just oxygen, they need a ventilator. If they’re so lucky, many don’t last for long even then.

    Undercount: If you die in line, you don’t get a test. You aren’t reported as a covid death. That’s not the only way deaths go unreported. Observers at cremation sites estimate around 4 times as many cremations as reflected in reported covid deaths.

    I asked about update on U.S. undercount. New study looked at deaths not attributed to covid diagnosis, estimating 50% to 100% undercount. IOW, a multiplier of 1.5 to 2. That’s deaths. Cases multiplier is likely to be higher. I’m just saying, infections are significant. Adding them to vaccinations may get us to effective herd immunity sooner than what media reports have been circulating.

    1. Note that the healthdata.org estimate that later got its own post is what I referred to above as a “new study”. Experts asked for reactions added that this estimate is on the conservative side. It’s possible to make even more aggressive estimates of up to double that size. Hence I gave a range.

      On my point that past infections could add to immunity along with vaccinations, I’ll admit, experts have been urging covid survivors to get vaccinated anyway. Experience being a motivator to heed that advice, most of this group may get swallowed into the fully-vaccinated stat. My hope of millions in undercounted immunity is, more likely than not, a vain one.

      I still feel we can get most of the way back to normal. The hope is that we can change the minds of fence-sitters with reasonable qualms. Assuming we do get there in the end, it may be in spite of never converting the political objectors. That’s a good-sized fraction of conservatives & I’ll even toss in the wacko lefties, but I figure they’re both not too big a fraction of all of us.

      Speaking of which, yes, “Trumpism” discouraged compliance to restrictions that would’ve better contained covid in the U.S. But, no, that’s not the moral of the story. We screwed up because the CDC’s mission had evolved from disease control to “science”. This is only one of many ways we screwed up. Because of who we are as a people. The ways we’d become unable to take appropriate actions when the time came (which wasn’t unexpected), were all years in the making. Michael Lewis’s book about this may be, I’ll say, mediocre, but I’d echo his point that if we lay all the blame on Trump, that might feel like we’re off the hook.

      Epidemics come & go. We still haven’t fixed obstacles to acting to limit them. It should’ve been within our means. But we lack the ability to act early while the science is uncertain. Science takes time. Time’s precious at the beginning. We have to prepare. That takes money & people. Who among us wants us to spend on healthcare that isn’t for us & our family specifically? How many of us realize that we shouldn’t punish our institutions because they made a mistake? We should punish them when they’re too timid.

  2. Disturbing factoid in the media: 2nd shot no-shows. People changing their minds about the vaccine after already getting their 1st shot.

    Never mind my stupid conspiracy theory about some people wanting to sabotage the country so the wrong folks don’t get the credit. Like, if it turned out that government does stuff & the country prospers, that means govt might sometimes be part of the solution & not just be the problem. That could cast doubt on not just the Trump faithful, but the entire conservative philosophy. This would partly explain why Trump’s wing is really the only game in GOP-town. Why so much of the bad info being spread (e.g., Tucker Carlson) preys on vaccine hesitancy. Anyway,
    let’s set such animosity & speculation aside for the moment.

    Do we have an updated estimate on unknown-case multiplier? Earliest guess was 10x. Cumulative reported cases is 10% of U.S. pop. That’d suggest we’re up to 100% previously infected. If we’re 30% fully vaccinated & if stealth cases were to add another 20%, say, that’s 60%. Vaguely herd immunity territory. Meanwhile, cases are still trending down. It’s too soon to say if it’ll flatten out above zero. But I reckon we aren’t that far from thinking of covid as less than a raging pandemic. At least, practically, for those of us not in a surge.

    Reactions, anyone?

  3. Its really hard to run a news story saying, “the US is mostly kinda meh right now. Not going out of control, but not really dropping as fast as we would like.” You either have news stories talking about the doom they can find in isolated outbreaks, or the stories of “we should just open everything up now.”

    The main problem is statistics can be twisted to prove anything. The CDC says that ~78 of the people who are hospitalized in the US with COVID are overweight or obese. That makes it sound like this disease is mostly causing problems for people who are already unhealthy. But, if you look at the CDC’s statistics for the US from 2017-2018 (the most recent I could find), it says that 74% of Americans over 20 years old are overweight or obese. 74% vs 78% doesn’t seem like much of a difference in the representation.

    But, due to these “scare tactic news stories” for overweight and obese people, healthy people think they are virtually immune to the disease. I’m just glad I’ve only got 2 weeks to wait for my second shot, then 2 weeks after that my life won’t depend as much on other people not being stupid.

    1. Yes, totally accurate and very good points.

      Also very sad to confront the reality that 74% of Americans are overweight.

      1. Well, it also depends on the definition of overweight. If they’re going by the Body-Mass Index (BMI), then a lot of that 74% is questionable. According to my height, I am overweight at 155 lbs; the BMI says I need to be under 145. Which would be pretty unhealthy for me because I’m already pretty slim. Of course, it could be due to my athletic physique… but probably not.

  4. In regards to the negativity of the news and the highlighting of conflict, we have that in Canada right now.

    There is no question we have had an increase in cases and hospitalizations in three of the four biggest provinces (Quebec has escaped the increase so far) however, in addition to that, all that is mentioned on the news is the federal government having difficulty accessing vaccines and the provincial government having difficulty administering them.

    Not mentioned, and I suspect I might be the only person to notice this in all of Canada, 10 million doses have now been administered, for an average of 1 million doses delivered every 3 days for the past 6 days. With a total population of around 38 million, that means nearly 1% of Canadians are now being vaccinated every day. In Canada, we have decided to get the first dose delivered to as many people as possible, with the second dose not to be administered to many (if any) more people until four months after their first dose. In total, more than 9 million Canadians have received at least once dose, for approximately 25% of the total population.

    In regards to accessing of vaccines, Canada has maintained a 7-10 day stockpile for probably over a month now. Some of the shipments are definitely haphazard, but over all, this is probably the best that can be expected.

    Ontario has had a surge in cases because, like Michigan, the ‘U.K variant’ has taken hold. This variant is much more contagious but is no more virulent. I’m not sure that greater precautions need to be taken to deal with it.

    Here in British Columbia, the ‘Brazilian variant’ has taken hold. It is much more contagious, is apparently 2.5 times as virulent as the original Covid, and can cause much more harm to younger people. The Vancouver Canucks hockey team was likely hit with the Brazilian variant and nearly all the players got it, and several of them might be ‘long haulers.’

    I don’t think it’s completely known if additional precautions have to be taken, but there are warnings that wearing masks in indoor setting might provide less protection for lengthier stays (like in a shopping store) even if everybody is masked and that even outdoors it is advisable to either wear a mask, or to not stay for long with people who ‘you don’t know where they’ve been.’

    That these variants happened to come along right around the same time as the vaccines could make me conspiratorial (just as the vaccines came along, the government (which financed the vaccines) had to find a new way to keep people under control!) but, I was alerted to the possibility of rogue mutations causing variations that can be both either more contagious, more virulent or both shortly after the initial virus. The person who alerted me and others to this was trying to warn us of the dangers of not wearing masks because ‘freedom!’

    1. To add to that. I don’t expect everybody to engage in some kind of ‘don’t worry, be happy’ or ‘everything is fine’ approach, but, while the various levels of government can bicker about each others failings, there should be more of an emphasis from both the senior levels of government and the media that the technicians who deliver the national vaccine shipments to the local level and the medical people who administer the vaccines have essentially got this down to a science and are doing a very good job.

      In regards to the Canucks, while I don’t believe a single Canucks player went to the hospital, there is also a real story that was likely lost in the media hyping up the negative. The negative story, which is certainly based on a kernel of truth, is that the National Hockey league and the team let the players down because the team was supposed to return to play this past Friday, after a single full practice (an increasing number of players had returned to skating as early as this past Monday.

      One can argue over how much practice time the team needed or should have gotten, and it can certainly be argued by itself that one full practice was hardly enough, but it can also be argued, ‘everybody sometimes faces tough situations’ and until that practice, the players (those healthy enough to play) were willing to go along with it.

      What happened though is this: for those not familiar with hockey, it is a fast pace game in which players take an approximately 40 second shift if there is no stoppage and they then change on the fly for approximately 80-120 seconds depending on how many shifts they take. So, this requires a great deal of endurance training and top lung capacity, as the players go full out for those 40 seconds on the ice. The players said that they thought they were fine and fully recovered going into the full practice on the Thursday, but early on they realized how quickly they were out of breath.

      It seems this was not something even the medical staff of the team was expecting and this damage to this sort of endurance (or strength) training is either new or hightened with the ‘Brazil’ variant. However, enough of the Canucks players were able to go this Sunday.

    1. I suppose you think you’re joking. Modi is in fact one of a number of reactionary leaders in the global wave of rightwing takeovers it just so happens coincides with Trump’s rise to power over here. Though this might be inaccurate, strictly, I’d still call Modi a racist.

      1. All I know for sure is that there have been almost 3 million deaths globally from this virus. 500,000 of those are directly Trumpy’s fault. Blood on his hands!!!

        The other 2.5 million are tragedies due to a 100 year world-wide pandemic.

        1. OK. Sorry, Geoff, didn’t get the joke. Or, took it the wrong way. Still don’t quite get what your last sentence is alluding to. But I’ll give it to you, you did have a point & I guess yes, you were “rite”. Peace.

  5. There is so much we don’t know about long term hidden effects to those who got COVID-19 with only minimal obvious discomfort. So it is disturbing that the vaccine-hesitant are saying the side effects of the vaccine are worse than getting COVID. I’m a month past my second Pfizer and holding off flying and indoor dining for a couple more months

  6. Tim said (21/04/10): “Your post is a whole lot of “the best is the enemy of the better”. We don’t “know” a lot of things. But we can still take a lot of educated guesses about them and be better off…”

    Yes, you’re right about my mixed msg. Your point is what I intended as my main one. Along the way I admitted TX has yet to be decisively punished for opening up recently. It’s still possible they won’t be. In which case I’ll admit their gov maybe had good counsel rather than sheer politics behind it. That was “tertiary”. My 2nd’ary msg would be: We can now stop doing some of the useless measures that’ve become habits. We didn’t always know they weren’t a big deal. Masks still are. Distancing still is. Although 6ft is misguided. The important skill we need is recognizing & avoiding potential spreader situations.

    Disinfecting surfaces & masking outdoors are now overkill & theater. Being a mask cop outdoors was self-defeating & is now objectively wrong. It’s shocking how long it took to reopen parks. Not because we have scientific proof, but because as you say, we have very good best guesses about stuff now.

    Not insisting on a high priority to ventilation indoors was a terrible way to not appear to be demanding too much cost & effort. The reason this was a bad decision from the very start was that we had bad reasons to guess covid wasn’t “airborne” (fear of guessing wrong, we disregarded erring on the safe side) & we had quite good info (just not “science”) in reports of asymptomatic transmission coming from Wuhan. Right there, once we pick up on that, “airborne” almost jumps out at us. Admittedly, not what “airborne” as medical jargon usually means but the msg could’ve been made clear enough to doctors & nurses.

    In my mind such details are a micro look at a wider problem of experts holding common folk in low esteem. (Generally, pro’s looking down on amateurs, etc.) Taking the time to explain things clearly & free of jargon pays dividends in the long run. The downside is it tends to demystify their job, lowers their awe factor & maybe even barriers to entry. I’m aware of this effect as a major reason my own serious skill, computer programming, never got easy enough for non-geeks. I mean, many people never get the hang of VCRs/DVRs, or even have trouble with kitchen appliances, but a lot of regular folks do manage. But there’s just way too much economic value in appealing to authority when it comes to computers. Jobs hung on Micro$oft or Cisco certs, etc.

  7. I think there is another culprit here as well. Those in the younger age group are taking more risks. A year into the pandemic, they haven’t gotten it, they must be invincible. I know this because three of my friends got it, right here in the joke stretch.

    Their IG accounts told the story easily. And worse, they are back out and about because it didn’t hit them “that hard”. I got shot 2 today and I plan still to take precautions.

    1. Agree. I speculated that there is also a behavioral component.

      Like you, I have received both shots, but have not changed any of my routine. I wear my mask. I avoid all indoor gatherings and large outdoor gatherings.

      I will try to stay out of this battle until it is over.

      I get upset when I see so many careless people unwilling to wait it out until we have more vaccinations under our collective belt, but t’aint a damn thing I can do about it.

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