Short Term Indicators Looking Up

Posted by

A couple of weeks ago, there was the scare headline I saw about “bracing” for the expected post Thanksgiving surge in cases. Guess the expectation is that people weren’t going to be compliant little dobees and we’d be punished for those daring to travel over the holiday. I have no idea whether travel was up, down or stable compared to other years but we are far enough past Thanksgiving to at least take a second look.

Cases have continued to go up but I don’t really see another exponential growth phase. In some ways, the case count is distorted because of what is happening in California where you could reasonably argue there was a surge. Of the new cases reported yesterday, California accounted for 20% of them.

If I compare growth in cases for this week to last week, there were only nine states where the rate of change increased. Those were Texas, Tennessee, California, Maine, Hawaii, Florida, Arizona, South Carolina and Georgia. Texas is an anomaly because of the big dump of probable cases a couple of days ago. The change in Florida, Arizona, South Carolina and Georgia is really not big enough to say it is a true increase so they look more flat. There just isn’t a lot of hard evidence supporting a surge if you define a surge as the type of increase we were seeing earlier this fall.

What I’m looking at today is what I call my short term indicator. This is a rolling two week sum of the percentage of positive results. I also have the same information for cases but due to the differences in scale, it is hard to effectively show that on a graph. Some states don’t report on weekends and case counts always seem to increase towards the end of the week and those will impact this more than the four week one I also use. I like to see that one confirm any trend but we can use this (with appropriate caveats) to get a read on where things are going.

So let’s get started with the first group of states. Just in case you are new, I’ve roughly grouped states from north to south and east to west based on latitude and longitude but combined some of the groups so I don’t end up with too many graphs with just a couple of states.

In terms of case growth, this region contains five of the top ten: New Hampshire (1), Maine (2), Pennsylvania (5), Vermont (8) and Massachusetts (10). Connecticut and Rhode Island rank 13th and 14th so it is where we are still seeing the fastest growth but even here things have been slowing. A few observations about each state.

  • Connecticut – One of the places that doesn’t report over the weekend so my two week sum currently has two weekends in it. The most recent high in new cases was back on 12/7 and the percentage of positive results has stalled at 6.6% for the last four days in a row. Short term trend is that things are flattening here.
  • Massachusetts – The highest number of newly reported cases in December was back on the 3rd. Over the last four days, my sum of case count and percentage of positive results has been flat. Again, the short term trend is flat and not increasing.
  • Maine – The last two days have been the highest number of newly reported cases in December. The percentage of positive results has continued to climb and now stands at 4.7% for the last two weeks which is up from 3% a week ago. Short term trend is still increasing.
  • New Hampshire – Highest number of new cases for December was on the 11th but the two week sums of cases and percent positives are still increasing. Percentage of positives for the last two weeks was 11.2% but the rate of change has slowed in the last couple of days. Short term trend is still up but not quite at the same rate.
  • New Jersey – New Jersey dumps a bunch of negative test results on certain days so the percentage of positives fluctuates more than other places in this region. Their high point for newly reported cases this month was on the 12th. Short term trend is flat.
  • New York – They reported 11271 new cases on the 4th and have been over 10000 on 8 days since then but the 4th is still the high for December. For the last two weeks, the percentage of positive results was 5.2% which is still going up but at a smaller rate. Short term trend is still increasing but trending towards flattening.
  • Pennsylvania – The high for new cases in December was 12884 on the 5th which was almost matched on the 11th, but three of the last four days have been below 10000. Pennsylvania is the easiest line to see on the graph below and you can see the break in the curve as the increase has slowed. The short term trend is still increasing but no longer in the real growth phase.
  • Rhode Island – I have no data for the 5th and 6th. Sometimes, states update late and when I do my bigger update, I use a different data set which may fill in the gaps. But the percentage of positive results over the last two weeks was 7.8% which is the first time it was below 8% since the 5th. With reservations, I’d say the short term trend is that cases are declining here.
  • Vermont – Had a high of 224 newly reported cases on the 3rd but the second highest total was yesterday with 140. The percentage of positive results was 2.2% for the last two weeks and that is essentially unchanged since the 8th. I’ll call the short term trend flat.

In this next region, we had some states that started trending up but the short term indicator is suggesting that the climb is over in most of them. Here are the details.

  • Delaware – High point for newly reported cases in December was 1058 on the 12th. The percentage of positive results broke 10% on the 14th but has declined since then and currently sits at 9.6%. Since cases haven’t yet shown the same drop, I’ll call the short term trend flat.
  • DC – Their high for new cases was 392 on the 5th. The percentage of positive results for the last two weeks was 3.9% which is essentially unchanged since the 11th. The short term trend here is flat.
  • Maryland – Had a high of 3792 newly reported cases back on the 4th of December. The percentage of positive results for the last two weeks was 6.1% which is essentially unchanged since the 6th. The sum of cases has changed very little since the 13th. Short term trend here is also flat.
  • North Carolina – The high for newly reported cases in December was 7540 on the 11th. The percentage of positive results for the last two weeks was 10.7% which is still going up but it was 10.4% on the 12th so the rate of change has slowed. But since cases and percentage of positive results are still increasing, the short term trend is still an increase.
  • Virginia – Their high for newly reported cases in December was 4398 on the 12th. The two week running sum of newly reported cases is still increasing but the percentage of positive results is not. It currently sits at 11.5% which is down from 12.1% on the 11th. But with the high still being recent, I’ll call the short term trend still increasing.

I have less to say about some of these states since many are clearly seeing a drop in cases.

  • Illinois – The two week sum of newly reported cases was the lowest since November 9th and the percentage of positive results for the last two weeks was 8.9% which is the first time has been below 9% since November 6th. Short term trend is still for declining cases.
  • Indiana – The high for newly reported cases was 8460 on the 3rd which just dropped out of my two week sums. But both cases and percentage of positive results have declined over the last few days. With caution, we’ll say the short term trend is that things are dropping.
  • Michigan – Similar to Illinois. The sum of newly reported cases for the last two weeks was the lowest since November 13th and the story is similar for percentage of positive results. Short term trend is that cases are still declining.
  • Ohio – The high for newly reported cases was 25721 on the 8th. That is more than double any other day of the month so it will distort things until it drops out of the sum. Cases have been flat and there has been a small drop in the percentage of positive results. But it does not appear that we have really started a decline so the short term trend is flat.
  • Wisconsin – Things continue to improve here. Sum of new cases and percentage of positive results are at their lowest levels since the end of October. So the short term trend is that cases continue to decline.

The next group is the a small three state group where we’ve never really seen an exponential growth phase.

  • Kentucky – Their high for newly reported cases was 4314 on the 10th. Another place where negative cases are dropped on certain days causing fluctuations in the percentage of positive results. Sum of new cases hit a high on the 10th and has dropped since. With some caution, the short term trend is down.
  • Tennessee – Had most than 11000 newly reported cases on the 16th and the 13th which are the highs for the month. Case count and percentage of positives hit new highs yesterday so the short term trend is increasing.
  • West Virginia – Had a new high of 1636 newly reported cases yesterday. Cases continue to go up and the percentage of positive results for the last two weeks was 9% which is also a new high for December. Not in an exponential type growth phase but the short term trend is increasing.

The deep south is next.

  • Alabama – They had two days where they reported no negative results and then had a big dump on the 14th leading to the sharp drop in the graph. Case count continues to go up but the rate has slowed. Not enough to call it flat so the short term trend is still increasing.
  • Florida – Just had a new high in newly reported cases (13102) yesterday. The percentage of positive results for the last two weeks was 9% which does represent a high for December. Without the last day, I would have considered things flat but the cautious approach is to say the short term trend is increasing (although not very fast).
  • Georgia – Hit a high of 6062 newly reported cases on the 10th but yesterday’s total of 5835 was the second highest in December. It does look like the rate of change has slowed but not enough to call it flat so the short term trend here is still increasing.
  • Mississippi – They do a big dump of negative cases once a week so the percentage of positives also fluctuates. They are close to flat but there aren’t enough days to really call that so the short term trend is still increasing.
  • South Carolina – They hit a high of 3572 newly reported cases on the 12th and the number of new cases was similar on the 11th and 13th. It has dropped since then but the sum of new cases is still going up as is the percentage of positive results which sits at 11.1%. So, like most of the rest, the short term trend is still increasing slightly.

Another region where things are still declining and there is no sign of a post Thanksgiving surge.

  • Iowa – The sum of newly reported cases for the last two weeks was the lowest since late October and the percentage of positive results continues to decline as well. The decline is slower than the increase but that tends to be the case every time there is a surge.
  • Minnesota – The last three days have seen the lowest number of newly reported cases since early November. Funny how all the states in this region seem to show the same pattern and the short term trend is clearly still decreasing.
  • Nebraska – Cases and percentage of positives are at their lowest levels since early November. Same story as the rest – the trend continues to show cases decreasing and things improving.
  • North Dakota – At the peak, they were over 1000 newly reported cases a day. Yesterday, they had 377. Things here are at their lowest levels since early October. You don’t have to be overly optimistic to conclude things are still going down here.
  • South Dakota – Their high for newly reported cases in December was 1291 on the 2nd. Things here are at their lowest levels since late October/early November.

Kind of a mixed bag here with some up and some down.

  • Arkansas – Set a high for December in newly reported cases yesterday with 3039. Not wanting to over react to a single day but also don’t want to call something flat when the last data point is a new high. So the short term trend is increasing but at a slow rate.
  • Kansas – They only report every other day or so which really messes with things. There has been a small drop in the percentage of positive results and the high for newly reported cases in December was 6234 on the 4th. But, on a whole, the short term trend is flat.
  • Louisiana – While the high for December was 5326 newly reported cases on the 1st, the sum of new cases is still going up along with the percentage of positive results. Again, not exponential growth but the short term trend is increasing.
  • Missouri – They hit a high of 5001 newly reported cases on th 5th but cases were about half of that for most of last week. They are currently at levels like mid November so the short term trend is that things are declining.
  • Oklahoma – Lots of variability here. They also do inconsistent reporting of negative results which messes up the percentage of positive results. Still, both figures yesterday were new highs for December and so the short term trend has to be increasing.
  • Texas – Hard to really gauge the trend here. The newly reported cases have been up the last three days but were really low the two days early in the week. Not sure if there was some reporting delay. With a lot of caution, I’m going to consider the short term trend flat.

Another region where we continue to see improvement in the numbers.

  • Colorado – Back on December 3rd, they had 6037 newly reported cases which is the high for the month. Total cases and percentage of positive results are back to mid November levels and the short term trend continues to show declining numbers.
  • Idaho – I suspect something is off with their reporting but I don’t have anything definitive. Despite the drop in the curve, the short term trend looks more flat than decreasing so that’s what I’ll call it.
  • Montana – In terms of total cases and percentage of positive results, things here are back to levels that were observed in late October. Another state where we see clear improvement and the short term trend still points to continued declines.
  • New Mexico – The high for December was 2324 newly reported cases on the 1st. Since then, things have been dropping. The decrease has actually slowed a bit but not enough to call to flat so the short term trend is for continued decreases although maybe not as fast as other states.
  • Utah – Hit a high of 4004 newly reported cases on the 2nd although things have not dropped off that fast. Still, the sum of newly reported cases for the last two weeks has the lowest since mid November and they was at 18% positive for the last two weeks which is also the lowest since mid November. Short term trend does seem to point to further declines.
  • Wyoming – Another places with inconsistent reporting of negative results. But there has been a big improvement in case count. The total number of newly reported cases for the last two weeks was the lowest since November 5th. The short term trend is for further declines.

Last region with vastly differing results.

  • Alaska – They hit a high for December of 922 newly reported cases on the 5th. While there have been some short term fluctuations in the sum, it has been down seven days in a row and the percentage of positives for the last two weeks was 6% which is also lower than the previous week. So the short term trend looks to be for further decreases.
  • Arizona – They’ve had three days (1st, 8th and 14th) where the number of newly reported cases was over 10000. The short term trend does appear to be increasing although the rate has clearly slowed from earlier in the month.
  • California – They reported over 50000 new cases the last two days. Before that, they were in the 30000 range and started the month in the 20000 range. Everything is at new highs and the rate of change is accelerating. Short term trend is increasing and I’d probably say they are hottest of the hot spots right now.
  • Hawaii – Things have actually ticked up a bit there so we need to call the short term trend increasing. But we are talking about a very low level to begin with.
  • Nevada – The high for December was 3194 newly reported cases on the 5th but they are still over 2200 newly reported cases. The percentage of positives has dropped over the last week but the total number of cases has not. I’ll call the short term trend flat.
  • Oregon – They had two days with nothing reported so I’m not sure yet what to make of the trends. Before that, they were flat so I’ll go with that because there isn’t enough recent data to make a determination.
  • Washington – Finally getting back to normal in reporting. The decline the percentage of positives is an artifact of the large dump of negative results on the 5th which is still in the sum. But cases have been dropping so we’ll cautiously call the short term trend decreasing.

For what it is worth, that’s how I see things. California and perhaps Tennessee really seem to be where things are flaring up. In most other states with increases, the rate of change seems to have slowed. Still not decreasing but better than going up exponentially.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.