(c) 2020 by Darek Mihocka, founder, Emulators.com.
April 4 2020
The Math Doesn't Lie (It's Going To Be Grim)
I used the time series data for the United States to compute the growth rate of this virus since the first cases and deaths here in Seattle. On Tuesday April 1st, not as an April Fool's Joke, I posted projections to my Facebook page which were based on just crunching the existing data.
The data shows that since the first fatalities in Seattle a months ago, for the first three weeks or so the covid-19 virus spread and killed Americans at a growth rate of about 32% per day, every day, day after day. When the stock market spooked and dropped 3000 points on Friday the 13th in March, there were only about 30 deaths in the whole United States at that point. More people die in car accidents every day than that. Yet this was enough cause economic meltdown. Corporations and investors it seem are far quicker to react than confused and dazed government leaders. In just the three weeks since that meltdown, most states have now finally gone into Stay-At-Home lockdown, bars and restaurants and gyms have closed, sporting events and music concerts are cancelled. Schools are closed.
And yet since Friday the 13th the death toll and number of cases have gone up over 200-fold in just three weeks. That's exponential growth. It seems small day-to-day, but over a period of weeks and months it can balloon into the millions as my projections show.
By March 25th the state of Washington here where Seattle is locked everything down except for vital businesses such as drug stores, grocery stores, and hospitals. Many businesses closed entirely already. This "social distancing" has helped in that it has slowly slowed the exponential growth of the virus. From March 25th to April 1 the national rate slowed to about 27% for that week. And so as more people isolate I projected what would happen if the growth rate drops even lower to say 25% after April 1.
The numbers are still grim. It predicted for example that by Friday night there would be 7325 fatalities in the U.S., double Monday's numbers. In fact the number landed at 7381. As I am posting this on Saturday the 4th the numbers project we will cross 9000 deaths today and 50000 by Easter Sunday next weekend if spread and growth does not slow below 25% per day. Already the death toll today has crossed 8300 with national infections as whole crossing the 300,000 threshold. The United States joins Spain and Italy in losing about a thousand people a day. Since those initial two deaths about 35 days ago and now passing 8300 the United States is entering its 13th doubling of covid-19 deaths. Every 3 days, like clockwork, twice as many people have died because people thought this was a joke and are not isolating themselves, and because our government leaders were slow (are slow!) to react to force us to do so.
I do not understand why all of the supposed experts the at CDC and White House are downplaying the data. A few weeks ago they were telling us to hope and pray this goes away by Easter. Good luck with that. Now they've changed their tune to say ok well maybe 100,000 Americans will die by the time this is all over in August. Not a chance! My projections show a good chance that milestone will be reached by the end of this month, April.
My worst case projection indicates 50000 Americans may be dead of covid-19 by Easter. We keep getting told the growth rate is going to stop and the curves will flatten - and yes eventually when enough people are scared out of the wits that will happen - but certainly not in time for Easter in 8 days, and here's why: it spreads easily, asymptomatic people are already carriers, and it appears to take about 5 weeks to cause alarm in a given community (when it is already too late).
First, this virus is airborne, it can travel merely by someone's breath. Unlike HIV and other viruses that required very close and intimate contact you can get this one just by standing next to someone and having a conversation with them. Certainly shaking hands with the bartender or sharing a beer with someone will do that.
So I looked through the data for a location where there were no cases at the time of some large gathering where people might be drinking and in close contact with outsiders not from the area, and New Orleans' Mardi Gras came to mind. And sure enough as of February 26th, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, there were zero reported cases or deaths of covid-19 in the entire state of Louisiana, as in many states at that time. New Orleans is not the major international airline hub for Delta, United, and American as say Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston are. So it makes sense that is city that would be contaminated later than say Seattle.
Louisiana's first cases did not appear until about 12 to 14 days after Mardi Gras weekend, and the first deaths not until about 19 days later. Only now, 5 weeks after Mardi Gras, are people taking notice and is it becoming relevant on news outlets such as CNN.
As of Friday April 3, Louisiana has more covid-19 cases as Washington state, and per-capita more than double the deaths as Washington state, and it did so over a shorter period of time. i.e. it's growth curve is steeper.
What this data shows is that following an infection event into a new community - such as Mardi Gras in New Orleans - it takes about three weeks for the virus to start killing people and then explodes by around week 5. We are seeing the beginnings of this now in Houston (where just a few weeks ago people were dismissing covid-19 as a hoax), in Detroit, in Chicago. Major international airline hubs.
And there are still about 10 states and millions of Americans not under any stay at home order yet. Texas and Florida and Georgia only reluctantly issued those a couple of days ago, when unfortunately, it is already too late. They are well into the 5 weeks of growth.
There is a another bit of interesting data and that is the shape of the curves - the difference between social distancing in Seattle and the unrestricted normality in New Orleans. Louisiana's curve is steeper and rose more sharply in a shorter period of time. You can see Louisiana's rate of new infections flattening now, a full two weeks after their governor issued a stay at home order. Social distancing works. Unfortunately the death rate will lag and continue rising as week's worth of earlier infections get deadly.
Washington's data shows a much gentler slope initially, thanks to the fast actions of tech companies to send employees home at the beginning of March, a brief stall about 10 days after Washington state ordered bars, restaurants, and gyms to close, and then another stall shortly after the governor ordered all non-essential residents to stay at home.
Our rates however continue to increase as we approach week 5, even despite our efforts to lock down early the 5-week shadow hid the true rate of infection. This slow lag between initial infections and a rise in the data to make people wake up is what is still unfortunately giving so many people, cities, and states, the false sense that they will not be affected by this. I hate to say that even in my neighbourhood of Seattle I still see kids hanging out in the parks, doing things like playing soccer. The stupid kids are going to kill us all.
Ontario's Grim Projections
On Friday April 3, the Canadian province of Ontario, where I grew up and went to school in Toronto, issued a very grim reality check about the future. 1600 Ontarians are projected to die of covid-19 by the end of this month. Remember, Ontario and specifically the city of Toronto was quick to issue stay at home orders early, which have been extended to July, and has so far for a province of 14 million people (double that of Washington state, half that of Texas) limited their deaths to about 100, less than Washington state, and far less per capita. The growth rate of Ontario's deaths has been much shallower, about 21% daily over the past month vs. over 30% in parts of the U.S., thanks to strict lockdown in Ontario and many other parts of Canada. Unchecked at least 6000 Ontarians would be dead by end of April according to their predictions (which by my numbers requires a 16% projected daily growth rate). Yet even with social distancing and stay at home orders to reach the projected 1600 deaths by April 30th requires a seemingly small 8% growth rate over the next four weeks.
Don't let a small growth rate fool you. Even at 8% each remaining week in April the deaths will double, double again, then double again, and double again.
Many parts of the United States are still experiencing far higher growth rates due to negligent governors and overly confident citizens ignoring stay at home orders. It's going to be tragic. Millions of people will likely die in the United States when it is all done, which will among other things break up families, cause a glut of homes vacated by these deaths, this in turn will tank the real estate market, which will tank the construction industry, which will extend the economic collapse. It's very obvious to me that the world is about to enter a depression that is going to last for years. Don't take my word for it: Ontario projects that this pandemic will last at least another 18 months, about the same time it will take start vaccinating people. Things will not be going back to normal by summer. Do not wait for your governor or mayor to tell you to stay at home or to social distance. The data couldn't be more obvious.
Even if the United States listened to Bill Gates https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bill-gates-heres-how-to-make-up-for-lost-time-on-covid-19/2020/03/31/ab5c3cf2-738c-11ea-85cb-8670579b863d_story.html and as a whole could "pull an Ontario" to lock down every citizen to slow its death rate to 8% immediately it still means that 80,000 Americans will be dead of covid-19 by April 30. 80,000 at the low end, 2 million at the high end, depending on the growth rate, that is the stark reality we are facing this month. The problem again is this 5-week window from infection to death. As we see in Italy and Spain, which have had lockdowns in place and are slowing their infection and death rates, it still takes many weeks to "drain the pipeline" of new deaths.
Until the United States (and for that matter every country in the world) locks down travel and orders citizens stay at home the virus is not fighting one united front but rather hundreds of individual infection sites which are going to eventually experience exponential growth. You might flatten curve in one location but it will just explode in another. This increases the number of deaths of course, but also prolongs the economic shutdown and the resulting global economic depression that will follow.
Agree with me? Think I'm totally wrong? Still think the covid-19 virus and climate change are a liberal hoax? Or want to convince me that photons have no mass despite all the evidence that photon mass explains much of dark energy? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and regardless - STAY HOME!