All states may have begun their reopening process, but there is a notable difference between the six states that have already experienced the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and those states where the pandemic might just be beginning.
The data will tell us whether the economy’s reopening leads to another round of casualties.
It is clear that there are problems in the South and Midwest with rising infections and deaths — especially in Alabama and Georgia, both of which have reopened and are experiencing challenges.
The data over the next few weeks will tell us whether the reopening of the economy leads to another round of casualties or if the public is now more comfortable in resuming normal social and commercial activity.
According to the Washington Post, the six states that suffered the greatest losses have gently loosened restrictions on shopping and construction. What follows are those six states, including the political affiliation of the governor, the number of coronavirus cases and the reopening status of the economy:
- California (D) (86,000 cases) – Lower-risk businesses including bookstores, florists and clothing stores
- Illinois (D) (100,000 cases) – State parks, golf courses, retail stores for pickup and delivery
- Massachusetts (R) (89,000 cases) – Places of worship, outdoor recreation, construction and manufacturing industries
- New Jersey (D) (151,000) – outdoor recreation, construction, retail for curbside pickup
- New York (D) (356,000) – regional: outdoor recreation, elective surgeries, drive-in movies, retail for curbside pickup
- Pennsylvania (D) (69,000 cases) – Outdoor recreation and retail in certain region
Source: Washington Post; Johns Hopkins with Bloomberg News; RSM US
As seen in the first figure below, the consistent decline in coronavirus cases in the six states most affected – referred to as the Major states — appears to have stalled in the two weeks after reopening. That should give pause to the governors in all states.
And as the second figure below shows, the number of daily cases in remaining states – referred to as All Other — appears to be picking up again in the week after reopening. These states have either never imposed social distancing measures or have reopened their economies more broadly than in the Major states.
The different patterns of deaths from COVID-19 pneumonia and related causes are becoming apparent as well. While the seven-day path of deaths in the Major states continues to trend lower as shown in the first figure below, the decline in deaths in All Other states look to have stalled between 630 and 640 deaths in the past week.
Minnesota and Texas
Following are examples of the increase in infections in two states that have occurred after the reopening of their economies: Minnesota, where Democratic Gov. Tim Walz allowed the return of workers who could not work from home on April 27 and then reopened retail stores and malls on May 18; and Texas where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott allowed stay-at-home requirements to expire and has reopened restaurants, movies, gyms, salons and barbershops with restrictions on May 1.
Texas observed a spike in cases and use of intensive care beds roughly two weeks later, according to the Washington Post. Like the challenges in Alabama and Georgia, should cases continue to climb in Texas, that would not redound well to rebuilding public and business confidence in the reopening of the economy this summer.
The pandemic on a national level
The U.S. remains the world leader in the pandemic, accounting for 31% of total cases, 25% of new infections and 29% of deaths, according to several sources including the data aggregator Worldometers.
The U.S. remains the world leader in the pandemic, accounting for 31% of total cases.
As the first of three figures below indicates, the number of new cases has dropped from a peak of 32,000 per day on April 10 to 24,000 per day on May 14. As we discussed above, most of that drop is because of acceptance of social distancing practices and the shutdown of major metropolitan centers.
In the second figure, we show our projections for the spread of the disease in the next week. These are not predictions, but merely extrapolations based on the latest parameters of our mathematical model of the spread of the virus.
Given those parameters, we anticipate total cases in the United States to approach 1.7 million by the end of the coming week. And based on those projections, and given the current mortality rate of 6.0%, we expect the U.S. death toll to approach 99,000 people by the end of the next week.
Our death projection is based on the latest value of the mortality rate, which we have extrapolated with no prior knowledge of the course of treatments now available.
But that the mortality rate has doubled from less than 3% at the start of April to 6% a month later is distressing and may speak to the distance of current patients to health care providers, the overwhelming flood of patients at community hospitals and the existence of pre-existing health and working conditions of current patients.
For more information on how the coronavirus is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.