New Year, Dark Winter (Part 4)

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We reach the fourth and last post detailing where the states were at the start of the year. As a reminder, this was written on the 1st and I’m not going to go in and update it. If I see a dramatic new trend somewhere, I’ll cover that in a future post. See the first post for the relevant disclaimers and background.

Today we do the west starting with the Rockies and moving to the coast and picking up Alaska and Hawaii.

Colorado – We had some smaller increases including one starting on September 14th that flattened a bit and then took off on October 7th reaching a peak on November 21st. Cases have dropped since then and the average is now less than half of what it was at the peak. Deaths lagged and peaked on December 17th and have been dropping since then. It looks like things are improving here.

Idaho – Basically untouched in the spring and then saw a rise in mid June. Case levels never really dropped all the way and really started to take off again on October 21st. The peak was on December11th and has been dropping since then. Deaths have followed a similar pattern but with less lag. Things haven’t improved here as much as other places but they are improving.

Montana – Looks a lot more like the Dakotas than Idaho in terms of neighboring states. Saw a small rise in July and then a plateau and then cases really accelerated starting on September 15th. The peak was reached on November 22nd and cases have been rapidly declining since and are currently about a third of what they were at peak. There was little lag between cases and deaths and, while deaths are also dropping, they aren’t dropping as fast. Still it is clear that the situation is improving here.

New Mexico – Cases started to go up in mid September and the rise continued until it hit a peak on November 26th. Cases have dropped relatively quickly since then. The peak for deaths was on December 18th but they have not dropped as much as cases. But, again, deaths typically lag cases and they tend to be more indicative of how things looked in the past and not how they look now. Things are improving here.

Utah – A small rise in the summer but things really started to take off in mid September. The first peak was on November 21 and cases looked like they started to decline but that was the Thanksgiving disruption as cases started to rise again as reporting got back to normal. A second, smaller peak happened on December 10th. We may be seeing a similar pattern now but the trend is still down and deaths are also dropping. While there may be some increase in January, I don’t see a new higher peak so, overall, things are improving here.

Wyoming – Another state where cases were very low until mid September when they started to take off. Cases did peak on November 25th (just about the normal two months) and have dropped off rapidly since then. The current average is less than half of the peak. Deaths did see another increase but that could easily be just a reporting lag. Things are improving here.

Alaska – Like some other places, we saw a small increase in cases over the summer and then they flattened out until September 24th when they started to rise. The acceleration seemed to kick in around October 21st with a peak happening on December 6th. Things dropped off really rapidly after that with the current average being less than half of the peak. Similar story with deaths. So things are improving here.

Arizona – They started the summer peak earlier than other places and then saw cases start to go up again in early October with the real acceleration happening around November 3rd. Right now, it looks like things peaked on December 17th but the decline has been a little slow so it is possible this is just an artifact of the year end disruption. I’ll go back to something I last used for the east coast and say that I’m cautiously optimistic the worst of the increase is over.

California – They had the summer peak as well and then things calmed down and cases dropped back almost to April levels. Around October 25th, cases started to rise, really taking off sometime in mid November. Currently, the data shows a peak on December 24th and deaths have also stopped increasing. But I’m not really cautiously optimistic just yet. I want to see the first couple of weeks in January to make sure we don’t see things start to go up again.

Hawaii – Its good to be an island. But it shows how hard it can be to keep something out as Hawaii really had few issues until late summer. Cases did jump again in November so we should probably wait another couple of weeks to see whether this is going to amount to anything.

Nevada – Saw the summer rise like Arizona and California. Cases actually started going up in mid September and then really accelerated in early November. A peak was hit on December 14th and things have dropped quite a bit since then. But we haven’t yet seen deaths start to drop – they’ve been mostly flat since a peak on December 23rd. I’ll go with the cautiously optimistic tag again. The trend for cases is moving in the right direction but we need more data to confirm.

Oregon – Like other places, there was a modest rise in cases during the summer with things dropping back until mid September when they started going up again. The rapid acceleration started on October 27th with a peak hit on December 7th. Cases have dropped since then. Deaths peaked on December 23rd and have also dropped. I think the magnitude of the drops makes in unlikely this is due to reporting disruptions so we’ll say things are improved here.

Washington – Kind of looks like Oregon. The difference is that Washington had a bigger outbreak in the spring – we only catch the tail end of it in these graphs. The rapid acceleration in cases started on October 27th with a peak on December 16th. Washington does have some inconsistent reporting which likely explains the second peak in deaths. Still, the trend in cases is enough for me to say things are improving here.

And that’s it. We need to see some data in January to make sure we aren’t going to see another leg up in some states. Well at least to make sure that any rapid acceleration doesn’t continue. Still, the overall picture isn’t bad. If you go back to October/November and the number of states where cases were growing almost exponentially, then things are clearly better now both here and in other regions.

Not saying the wave is over because we’d need to see places start to get back to low levels with no acceleration. Just saying that it is looking more and more like that’s where we are headed and maybe this winter won’t be as dark as some thought.

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