Daily COVID-19 Briefing: 5/7/20

Top news, reports and insights for today:

  1. Daily COVID-19 headline summaries for Thursday:
  • New York hot spots emerging in other cities and smaller communities, offsetting decreases in the big apple (New York Times)
  • Moscow mayor says Russian capital may have over 250,000 cases, three times the official number. A record 8,000 new cases reported throughout Russia (Newsweek)
  • After last week’s LA Times article about a more contagious strain, top scientists say there is currently no evidence of multiple strains of SARS-CoV-19 (Reuters)
  • The Trump administration rejects the CDC’s guidelines for reopening U.S. states (CNN Politics)
  1. U.S. reports highest death toll on Wednesday, a second day of 4% rise
    COVID-19 deaths rose again to a new record high, as 2,710 Americans lost their lives to the pandemic. For the second straight day, a 4% cumulative increase was reported. Wednesday has seen the highest death counts in 3 of the last 4 weeks. The record high was caused in part by 952 deaths in New York, the highest daily total in that state. Record highs were matched or exceeded also in New Hampshire (19), Mississippi (32), South Dakota (5), North Dakota (6), and Minnesota (30).
    What this means: Deaths remain flat in the U.S. since April 28. A new record high is a shock to many and suggests the worrisome possibility that U.S. peak has not yet arrived. New York is seeing declining deaths and new cases in the city at the same time as secondary outbreaks are appearing in smaller cities and towns across that beleaguered state.
  1. The midwest continues to be the hot spot region, 4 states report cases doubling every 2 weeks
    On Wednesday, 24,859 new cases were reported, a rise of 2%. This marks the third straight day of rising new cases, halting a longer trend toward decreasing daily cases. Virginia did not report cases or deaths on Wednesday. The graph below shows change over last week. The positive news is that new case growth has been slow in New York, Vermont, and Louisiana. Four states saw rapid growth, all were in the midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska) where cases are now doubling in less than 2 weeks. The CDC reports that 35 states have widespread community transmission.
  1. States vary widely in rate of testing, Rhode Island leads the way
    It’s been a while since I looked carefully at testing rates across states. The graph below shows a ranking according to tests completed for each 10,000 residents, ranked in order from highest to lowest. On average (the median in this case), states are testing about 208 per 10,000 or about 2%. That’s not very good compared to Iceland, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Cyprus, Denmark, Portugal, Israel, Estonia, Ireland, and Spain; all have all tested more than 4% of their populations. The variation among states is striking. Here are some take home messages I take from this graph:
    1. The top state, Rhode Island, is testing almost 6-times as many people as Arizona at the bottom. This may explain why that state’s total cases appears so high.
    2. Northeastern states have done consistently higher rates of testing. Only Maine has tested fewer than 200 per 10,000.
    3. North Dakota stands out at over 500 per 10,000, testing more than Washington, California, and Massachussetts.
    4. Several states where deaths are growing fast are lagging considerably in testing rate including Virginia, Minnesota and Arizona.
    5. Lack of national leadership in testing has led to extreme uneven response by states.
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