COVID-19 Marches On

A closed store. Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash
The coronavirus is causing untold damage to the economy, shuttering stores and restaurants. Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash.

COVID-19 continues its steady march across the country, with 36,008 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total case count in the United States to 938,590, an increase of 4 percent.  Globally, reported cases climbed 89,000 to 2.917 million, an uptick of 3.1 percent. The economic toll of the virus has not yet been counted.

In the U.S., deaths grew by 2,056 to 48,310, an increase of 4.4 percent.  The country now accounts for 24 percent of the 203,545 deaths reported worldwide.

Disclaimer: The U.S. numbers above are from The New York Times and differ slightly from other data sources, in part because the estimated 5,300 deaths in New York City that are believed to have died from COVID-19 but were never tested.  International data is from Johns Hopkins.

As we saw yesterday, testing in New York continue to increase by leaps and bounds, which has resulted in higher numbers of positive cases.  For example, New York tested 46,912 people on the 24th and saw 10,553 new cases.  Both hospitalizations and deaths are significantly lower than they were at the peak.  In fact, hospitalizations in New York have been dropping steadily for two weeks and Gov. Cuomo said that New York is “on the down side of the mountain.”

State Results

Here’s an updated look at week-over-week case growth across the top states:

State data showing case growth over the past week
The spread of coronavirus across the worst-hit states today compared to a week ago. Data from The New York Times.

In the past week, the rate of growth has grown in Maryland, Ohio and Texas and held steady in Colorado and Illinois. Otherwise, cases growth is down, often significantly.

One should note that the states that were hit early and hard, like Washington, and New York, now have some of the slowest growth.  States that were hit hard but a bit later, like Louisiana and Michigan, have also seen notable decreases.  States that are home to large concentrations of cases in prisons and meat packing plants, such as Illinois and Ohio, continue to be working themselves up the curve and have yet to see any leveling.  Maryland, for example, reported its deadliest day on Saturday, with 74 deaths.

The Reopening Question

Is the U.S. ready to reopen?  These case numbers seem to say that it is not.  However the economic toll tell a different story.  The lack of production is being felt across multiple sectors as unemployment continues to sky rocket, businesses fail, and supply chains experience more disruption.  Large chains that are contemplating bankruptcy due to coronavirus include AMC Theaters, 24 Hour Fitness, JC Penny, Lord & Taylor, and Neimen Marcus.  Frontier Communications and the XFL Football League are among the thousands of companies that have already filed for bankruptcy.

As I have said before, leaders need to create a plan that protects the elderly and infirm, who are most at risk, while allowing the young and healthy to return to work, especially in those counties with little or no case growth.  A slow reopening and recovery is better than no reopening and recovery.

To put today’s numbers in perspective, you can look back at yesterday’s report, see data from a week ago, or even check back a full month when there were fewer than 70,000 reported cases.