Are we on the verge of a second wave of coronavirus infections? Is there a surge in infections in the states that resumed first?
The only way to answer this question is to see how the data comes in. Perhaps the best data to see if the second wave begins is the number of hospitalizations. Media often report the largest and most dramatic figures, often without context. The number of cases has been regularly reported since the first days of the pandemic, and yet we know that the number of cases may be misleading,
The more people who are tested and re-tested for the presence of the virus, the more positive the results will be, while the number of confirmed cases in the US exceeds 2 million. But if we know something, then the increase in the number of confirmed cases does not accurately convey how quickly and widely the virus spreads. Antibody Tests and even wastewater examination some cities suggest that the number of infections is probably much higher than the number of confirmed cases.
But on the other hand, some of the confirmed cases double counted in some states, partly because both antibody and active virus tests are counted separately, but then combined in the total number of cases. While antibody tests were criticism for their false positive results, another criticism was that antibody studies may underestimate infection rate because they are not sensitive enough to detect a mild infection in the past.
In general, since the bulk of testing focuses on people who are the most ill and most affected, it seems reasonable to conclude that the true number of infections in the United States is significantly higher than this figure. But trying to estimate the true number of infections will be slightly better than speculation.
And this presents a problem with daily updates. To say that there is a “surge” in business in a particular state or city means that they have recently experienced a sharp increase in positive test results. This may be due to additional testing and a large number of testing methods, or it may be a hint of an increase in the level of infection.
Better data available
Instead of focusing on test results, that is, on “cases,” it would be more appropriate to focus on how the virus affects society and our facilities, especially how the virus affects health facilities and healthcare providers. The obvious measure tracked since the start of the pandemic is the number of deaths. As I am and other AIER noted that the number of deaths is difficult to interpret without an important context.
The coronavirus is obviously fatal, but how deadly it seems to be largely depends on how it enters the population and its characteristics. The virus was much more deadly in New York than in California, and the most deadly in long-term care facilities in the United States. among childrencoronavirus significantly less deadly than seasonal flu.
However, death tells us something important about the impact of the virus on society. They deeply impact entire social networks and are rightly emphasized in pandemic reports.
When it comes to observing how things are going now, whether a pandemic is worsening or dying out, mortality is a lagging indicator. They do not begin to emerge until the infections are already rapidly accelerating for many days, and do not decrease until the spread of the virus slows down.
The chart below shows that overall the number of deaths is clearly decreasing, although there is a weekly cycle in which on Sundays, apparently, there is a relatively low mortality rate, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays usually the highest rates. Overall, mortality rates were lower in the past two weeks than two months before. But if there will soon be a second wave, we will not see deaths from it yet.
Here is another look from the Washington Post.
In addition to deaths, more attention is paid to measuring the number of hospitalizations associated with coronavirus. Unfortunately, this data usually doesn’t return to the number of confirmed cases or deaths, but most states have hospitalization data for two months. Hospital data are measured in two ways, the first of which is a cumulative measure, similar to how confirmed cases and deaths are measured.
The number can only increase as more hospitalizations are added to the total. From this number, the daily number of hospitalizations can be calculated; however, this number is very noisy because the numbers are presented at the state level in various ways and do not seem to reflect the true numbers for the day.
In other words, the number of hospitalizations seems to be included in the groups. They can also be presented as weekly totals or weekly averages. But the drawback of the accumulated data is that they do not tell us much about the load on hospitals and health workers. The total number of hospitalizations for coronavirus rose sharply, from zero to almost 60,000 per month across the country, and remained high for several weeks after that. The diagram below shows that the decrease in the number of hospitalizations was quite stable, and in general the health system is experiencing a much lower burden than in mid-April.
The northeastern states of the United States have suffered the most, but most states have either declining or flat hospitalization trends, with some notable exceptions, such as North Carolina, Texas, and Arizona. But hospital admissions are still relatively low in these states, part of the total number of cases New York and New Jersey saw in April. Allegations that Alabama, Georgia and Florida are becoming “hot spots” are not supported by hospitalization figures, despite media reports saying otherwise.
Some parts of the country are still in the midst of the first wave of coronavirus infections, in states with very low hospital admissions and deaths in April, but the virus is now spreading more rapidly. But these states are unlikely to see how the northeastern states spread, and there is hope that the virus will be much less deadly in the future if policies are implemented to better protect the elderly and vulnerable, especially those who live in long-term care. objects.