More than 7.6 million Americans have been infected by the novel coronavirus as of the first weekend of October, according to statistics site Worldometer. The rate of new infections is increasing again, reaching 43,600 cases per day (see the first figure below) with 100,000 new cases reported in the past two days.
The RSM model projects that the total number of U.S. cases will surpass 7.8 million by the second week of October.
Given that many states do not report this data on weekends, these figures likely understate the true level of infection. At the current rate of spread, and unless the public adheres to strict social distancing practices, the RSM model projects that the total number of U.S. cases will surpass 7.8 million by the second week of October (see the second figure).
The third figure shows that the total number of U.S. deaths attributed to the coronavirus stood at about 214,300 as of Oct. 3, with a seven-day moving average of 730 per day. That number is down from the 2,200 per day at the height of the outbreak in April and 1,000 per day just six weeks ago. That is an encouraging yet sober reminder as we go into the winter months.
The declining number of deaths per day provides evidence that our medical community has accumulated and shared enough knowledge to reduce the rate of mortality. At the same time, the scientific community continues to better understand how the virus is spread, which should be considered when setting guidelines for operating a business or a school district or a university.
The largest COVID-19 study of infected people — conducted by Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of California at Berkeley and based on data from 500,000 people in India — yielded this summary of results published by the Princeton Environmental Institute at the end of September:
- “The virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected,” the so-called superspreaders.
- “71% of infected individuals did not infect any of their contacts, while a mere 8% of infected individuals accounted for 60% of new infections.”
- “Superspreading events are the rule rather than the exception.”
- “The chances of a person with coronavirus, regardless of their age, passing it on to a close contact ranged from 2.6% in the community to 9% in the household.”
- “The overall probability of catching coronavirus ranged from 4.7% for low-risk contacts up to 10.7% for high-risk contacts.”
- “Children and young adults — who made up one-third of COVID cases — were especially key to transmitting the virus in the studied populations.”
In terms of public policy, the analysis states that “implementation of a countrywide shutdown in India led to substantial reductions in coronavirus transmission.”
Regarding the increased outbreak of infections in U.S. college towns, a recent paper put numbers to the parental anxiety over allowing young adults to make their own decisions. The Journal of the American Medical Association Network reported an analysis of 3,222 young adults who required hospitalization for COVID-19 in the United States.
“Young adults age 18 to 34 years hospitalized with COVID-19 experienced substantial rates of adverse outcomes: 21% required intensive care, 10% required mechanical ventilation and 2.7% died. This in-hospital mortality rate is lower than that reported for older adults with COVID-19, but approximately double that of young adults with acute myocardial infarction.”
With that, the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States is approaching 8 million. Cases are increasing rapidly in Canada, and there are outbreaks in Britain and Europe, all developed economies with extensive health care facilities and expertise.
The first figure illustrates the spread of the infections from the six states with major metropolitan areas (Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California) where the initial outbreak peaked in April before spreading to all other states across the Sun Belt and Midwest. Infections in those states peaked in the weeks after the July 4 weekend and now account for the majority (33,800 per day) of new cases.
Deaths attributed to COVID-19 infections (shown in the second figure) peaked in mid-April at the height of the initial outbreak. There was a second peak in early August after cases had spread across the South and Southwest. The combination of a younger cohort of infected people (nursing homes had been locked down) and the increased knowledge of the medical community has clearly helped lower the overall mortality rate.
Average weekly growth rate of infections
In the following table, we show the state-by-state weekly growth rate of infections since:
- The reopening of local economies around May 1, which was likely to increase the exposure of the public in commercial locations.
- The unofficial opening of summer vacations on the Memorial Day weekend, which increased exposure as we looked for a respite from our isolation.
Because of the inconsistency of reporting by the various states, and the haphazard all-too-human spread of the virus, we are looking at the overall spread of the virus in our rankings.
Of the six major states, only California, with a 2.2% average weekly growth rate, and Pennsylvania, with a 1% weekly growth rate, are reporting an increasing number of cases since Memorial Day.
While cases in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are decreasing at roughly 1.5% to 2% per week, those improvements have decelerated and are cause for alarm as we move into the colder months.
Nationally, 39 states are reporting increasing average weekly growth rates since the Memorial Day weekend, as listed in the table below.
For more information on how the coronavirus is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.