State of the States (Week 2)

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First of all, let me start with the overall picture. For the week that ended yesterday, the number of positive tests dropped for the fourth week in a row. This one was pretty big – down 18% from last week and now down 35% from the peak observed during the week of July 19th. The percentage of positive results declined for the fifth straight week. Both numbers are now at the lowest since the week of June 21. The number of new reported deaths also dropped. All trends in the right direction.

I ran through calculations similar to what I did last week focusing on current number of cases relative to peak number of cases and relative to population. One problem I have is that states are compared against each other so there is always going to be a ranking which doesn’t really tell you if we are moving in the right or wrong direction.

What I did was to create arbitrary scales for each of my three measures just based on the min and max of the various states. Adding those together gives a score that can range from 3 to 30. My thought now is that if I keep these boundaries fixed, then I can start to look at changes over time.

So let’s go from best to worst. Again, this is just looking at the current situation and I’m only focusing on cases and not deaths. This does not imply that a particular state was great at managing the entire thing (because the two of the first three were clearly not). It is just a snapshot of where they stand now relative to when things were at the worst for a particular state.

Starting at the top with 3 points are New York and Connecticut. New Jersey comes next at 4 points. I group these three together because they represent the hardest hit area of the country. Relative to the awfulness of April, all three states are way down from that peak and have low numbers of new cases (expressed per million people). A current theory is that the ‘rona burns itself out (like other viruses) once you reach a critical mass of cases which is likely true for all three of these places.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire have 5 points. DC has 7. Rhode Island has 8. Arizona, Vermont and Maine have 9. Vermont and Maine aren’t as far away from peak as the others but they’ve had a low number of cases. Arizona is the geographic oddball. Still a relatively high number of cases but way down from where they were and certainly trending in the right direction. Kind of a sign that New England and the New York metro area got the worst of it early but are in good shape now.

With 10 points, we have Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Mexico. At 12 are Maryland and Washington. With 13 we have Louisiana, Michigan and Utah. And at 14 are South Carolina and Oregon. That’s our next group of 10 and they are randomly spaced. The western states all rank low in total number of cases. Michigan and Pennsylvania were part of the first wave but haven’t seen the case load drop as fast as New England. South Carolina and Louisiana are the best off of the southern states that saw the second wave. Still relatively high number of new cases but down quite a bit from the peak.

In the next group, we have Ohio, Delaware, West Virginia, and Nebraska with 15 points. Florida has 16. And then we have Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Minnesota and Wyoming with 17. Wyoming has a low number of cases but it basically still at that peak value. Same general story for Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Minnesota. The southern states fit the same general pattern – high current number of cases but coming off the peak. Florida is farther away from its peak but still has a high number of current cases. Nebraska and Delaware don’t really seem to fit any general pattern.

In the next group, with 18 points, are Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Alaska. With 19 points, we have Mississippi, Indiana, California, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The two southern states are farther away from the peak than the rest but have too many cases. The rest are close to peak and still relatively high numbers of new cases. Indiana, Kentucky and Montana are the closest to their peak values.

In our last group we have Georgia, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota and Idaho with 20 points. Iowa and Missouri with 21. North Dakota with 25 and Hawaii brings up the rear with 27 points. Georgia, Nevada, Texas and Tennessee are all past peak but have high number of current cases. Idaho sort of fits that pattern as well. South Dakota, Iowa, North Dakota and Hawaii are still at peak values.

I thought about trying to incorporate some kind of measure of trend. Even in this last group, I think the news is better in the states where cases are trending down. But this is all kind of arbitrary as it is, so I think I’ll just leave it be and see how much change we can actually see in a week.

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