State of the States

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Time for another journey into the numbers. All data taken from the WorldoMeter site. Analysis and opinions by me – a noted optimist so take with the appropriate grains of salt. Limitation of the data is that I didn’t start using this site until early May which impacts one of the calculations I made.

This will just be an attempt to divide the US into five equal groups based on my overall opinion of where they sit relative to the ‘rona. Looked at a couple of different things. First is the current 10 day average of cases expressed as cases per million just to put it all on equal grounds. Then, looking at that current value relative to the total number of cases and to what I have as the peak number of cases.

To start with, the only state in the US currently seeing rapid growth in new cases is Hawaii. While case numbers are high in lots of places, many of those are seeing a drop off or stabilization of the numbers. Past experience suggests that a peak can last quite some time so it is certainly possible for a place to be stuck at a certain number for a period of time.

For the US as a whole, the week that ended yesterday saw the fourth week in a row of declining new cases. The decline was only around 3000 which isn’t a big drop but there were roughly 100,000 more tests done. If you test more and find less, that’s a good thing. Last week was the lowest number of new cases since the week of June 28th.

The first block of states are those that appear to be in the best shape. In no particular order, they are New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New Mexico. It isn’t a state but DC would fall into this group as well. This is also the group that was hit hardest in April and includes the five states with the highest number of deaths per million.

Why I use per million is to put things on an equal footing. New York is still averaging about 750 new cases per day which is still pretty high but it works out to around 40 per million and that’s really the better comparison. All of these states (except New Mexico) peaked long ago but New Mexico has shown a pretty rapid drop since August 1 and they’ve done lots of testing there, so it seems legit.

The next block includes Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Washington. Arizona is a bit different from the rest. They still have a relatively high number of cases per day but they are way down from where they were and still trending downward. Maryland, Delaware and Nebraska all peaked in May and showed a second rise but are now moving downward again. North Carolina is another odd case. They didn’t seem to have an exponential phase – just a slow, upward progression until July 20th. But the number of cases per million is still lower than a lot of the other southern states which is one reason they end up here.

In the middle of the pack, we have Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Oregon and Alaska. Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina all rank among the highest if you look at new cases per million but all are down nearly half from their peak so they are trending in the right direction. Illinois and Michigan are probably hurt by me not having complete information because they probably peaked in late April. Michigan has a low number of current cases but is still very close to their earlier peak. Ohio, Minnesota, Oregon and Virginia all peaked later and currently still rank too close to their peak value.

The fourth group contains West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri and Nevada. Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Nevada and Texas all rank high in the current number of cases but have move away from their peak. Would expect further decreases in case count over the next weeks so I’ll probably have a different set of rankings if I did this in a month. West Virginia is a place that has a low number of cases but is still basically at the peak. Missouri kind of fits that as well. Iowa has basically been flat for about a month but that level is close to their peak so that puts them in this group.

And the last group includes Georgia, North Dakota, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Montana, Idaho, California and Hawaii. Oklahoma is more like the other states in the south – high current number of cases but trending downward. Kentucky is another oddball case. It ranks relatively low in total number of cases and seems to be peaking now. Montana has a very low number of cases and, relative to that, the current number of cases is high. Same story for Idaho, North Dakota and Hawaii. Georgia doesn’t quite fit the pattern in the rest of the south with cases kind of flat rather than declining. And California was looking good but trended back up recently.

One last and final caveat I must make. I made the arbitrary decision to just group into five equal parts. In some cases, there isn’t a heck of a lot of difference between the last state in one group and the first state in another. But I do think there are real and clear differences between the top and bottom groups in terms of how the virus is progressing.

Oh, I lied as I need one final caveat. Case numbers are really only part of the story. We know this thing deferentially impacts age groups and raw case counts don’t take that into account.

Clearly, the states with the bigger numbers are going to draw the attention. That’s why I wanted to focus on the rate per million and trends. Montana is never going to have as many cases as Florida so it is never going to get the attention. In terms of trends, Florida looks a little better.

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