Happy Tuesday, Friends.
Well, I never like to deliver bad news, but the US has doubled its daily rate of COVID-19 cases – from an average of around 20,000 new cases diagnosed per day in late May and early June, to the current level of over 50,000-60,000 new cases confirmed per day. Some officials blame these numbers on increased testing capacity (which is a good thing), but let’s be frank. Testing isn’t spreading the virus – it’s just giving us a better picture of what’s happening.
Time Magazine’s daily update on the coronavirus has some nifty charts that show how 15 very different countries have either managed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus – or look like they are poised for an explosion in cases. The data is shown as a rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases to help account for day to day variability.
What does the data show?
- Good news for several countries (notably South Korea), who took early control measures such as travel controls, rapid and wide-spread testing and aggressive case surveillance and managed to stop the spread of the virus early on. South Korea even did it without really strict isolation measures.
- Fairly good news for France, Italy, Germany and Spain which, after a rocky start and explosion of infections in April, have managed to sharply reduce the number of daily new cases. The UK looks like it’s stemmed the tide, too.
- Not so good news for the US, and India. India seems poised for a surge and after a downturn in May, the US is now seeing a rapid upswing in cases. Many believe that this is evidence that reopening efforts were premature. Another take from looking at the trends is that control measures (testing, social distancing and contact tracking for cases) are not uniformly observed or resourced across the country.
So, what can we do, now? I think we’ve all heard the following many, many times, however the 3 W’s sound like rather good advice to me:
Wear a mask. Don’t assume that just because you (or someone else) isn’t coughing that the virus isn’t present.
Wait – meaning 6 ft. apart. Avoid crowds.
Wash your hands.
Why is this a good idea? On July 2, Ochsner Health announced findings from a COVID-19 prevalence study, conducted in New Orleons in mid-May. In this study, they tested approximately 2,500 volunteers for both the presence of antibodies (which indicates that the person has been exposed to COVID-19) and active virus (which indicates that a person is infectious). What the researchers found:
- 8% of Jefferson and Orleans Parish residents have been exposed to COVID-19.
- 75% of infectious people were asymptomatic in the early days of the infection and about 40% of people never experienced symptoms.
- The calculated COVID-19 infection fatality rate is 1.63%, which is 10 to 40 times more deadly than the seasonal flu (fatality rate 0.04%-0.16%).
So – one of the realities we’re discovering for COVID-19 is that many people are symptom-free but still highly infectious – so there is a very real risk of those persons passing the virus on to older or immunocompromised people who can develop very serious symptoms.
Stay healthy and drop a line below to tell me how you spent the long 4th of July weekend!