Friday, June 26, 2020

Predicting Next Week's COVID Death Numbers — The Final Death Toll Will Be Trump's Legacy

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND CORONAVIRUS and how it behaves has proved difficult, even for the experts. Knowing how the disease works and what practices are best to prevent its spread has been hard to figure out.

But we do know that social distancing measures have proven to be effective. Wear a mask — wash your hands, often — stay six feet away from other people, if you have to venture out at all — and limit your travel to only necessary trips outside of the home.

Unfortunately, with many states relaxing their social distancing rules (either on purpose, like Florida and Texas have, or by judicial decree, as what happened in Wisconsin), the disease looks to be making a strong comeback. People aren't following social distancing rules that are advised by the CDC. Coronavirus hasn't disappeared, but many Americans, nevertheless, are acting like it has.

Disturbingly, we're now seeing cases go up to their highest levels ever. On Friday, the U.S. surpassed 40,000 new cases in a single day for the first time ever. With more than 127,000 deaths so far in the U.S. (as of Friday night), invariably this means that number will go up even higher in the next coming weeks.

How much higher is impossible to know for sure. But we can make an educated guess, based off of two different weeks of the crisis so far.

From April 1 to 7, there were 30,133.3 cases of coronavirus identified per day. From that number, nine days later (from April 10 to 16), we witnessed 2,228.1 American deaths on average.

So we can say that, for every case that was identified, there were 0.07394 deaths that happened. That number may seem weird at first glance, but stick with me here: it becomes important for our equation later on.

More recently, from June 9 to 15, there were less cases, about 21,825.1 on the average day during that time. Again, we look nine days later (June 18 to 24), and witness 598.1 deaths per day during those dates.

From that, we can say, for every case we saw, there were 0.02740 deaths.

Now, those numbers give us a way to sort of predict a range of what to expect within the next couple of weeks, because we have the 7-day average for the past week. That number is 33,244.3 new cases of coronavirus being identified per day (from June 19 to 25).

So, we can take those weird numbers from above, and multiply it by that number, to create a range, an idea of what we can expect, in terms of deaths per day from coronavirus, from June 28 to July 2.

Between those dates, we should prepare for between 910 deaths per day at the very low end, to 2,458 deaths per day at the high end.

Looking objectively, that's a very wide range. But even at the low-end estimate, it's a 52 percent increase from the devastating loss of life we've seen just over the past seven days.

Truthfully, the number will likely be on the lower end of things, for a couple of reasons. One, treatment of the disease is getting better. Doctors know better than to use drugs like hydroxychloroquine now, and they've studied the effects of ventilators, too, to know when it's appropriate (and when it's not necessary) to use those types of instruments. There's also promise about a steroid medication that has shown real results in treatment for patients who are seriously ill.

If we take the average of the extremes in that range, we come up with around 1,684 deaths per day during the end of June/beginning of July. I'm willing to bet, though, that it will be lower than that number, around 1,300 to 1,500 deaths per day over the June 28 to July 2 period.

But, is that really something to celebrate? Of course not. Why am I writing a huge blog post, then, trying to predict what the death numbers will be next week? To highlight just how awful things still are, and how a lack in federal leadership on coronavirus has mucked things up in a serious way.

President Donald Trump has not provided any plan for combating the disease, other than to say he did a good job (which, he did not). He urged people to protest against stay-at-home orders, and gloated about it when states began to reopen. 

The disease didn't go away. But the president has called this a success, nevertheless.

From June 28 to July 2, if between 9,000 to 10,00 Americans die during that time, as I'm predicting, it will be nothing short of a travesty. We'll be above 135,000 deaths overall in the country by the end of that seven-day period, and possibly above 140,000 deaths.

Other nations have demonstrated they're capable of eradicating the disease. So why haven't we? It's entirely Trump's fault. He didn't lead; he just watched as the United States saw more of its own people die.

And more will, of course, unless new actions are taken. One model suggests that, based on what we're seeing now, another 60,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by the time we reach October. I'm hoping to God those numbers are wrong.


I'm sick and tired of writing about this disease. But mostly, I'm sick and tired of seeing how our nation, supposedly the best in the world, is failing so badly at handling it.

Our nation is a joke. Other countries are barring us from traveling to them.

In short, we must always remember that this will be Donald Trump's legacy. He did nothing to stop the disease, did nothing to prepare for its impending arrival in February, and barely did anything at all, other than continually make false claims at press conferences, once the disease was here. Hell, he even encouraged others to engage in actions that probably spread it more.

This madness has to stop. Unfortunately, all signs point to more damage being wrought by the time we can remove him from office.

Featured image credit: BagoGames/Flickr

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