The outbreak of the coronavirus surpassed 450,000 reported cases of infection and 1,900 deaths per day in the United States. Our RSM model of the Covid-19 spread extrapolates a half million infections and more than 15,000 deaths by this coming weekend.
As the federal government gears up for a debate on when to reopen the economy, we strongly urge our clients to consult our U.S. fitted curve and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when considering the risk linked to the timing, goals and objectives around the reopening of the economy.
That we are nearing a half million infections as Easter Sunday approaches despite the majority of the population living under mandatory stay-at-home orders should not go unnoticed.
We are concerned that misplaced hopes surrounding an effective treatment have exacerbated the spread of the virus.
At the risk of being blunt, we are concerned about false optimism of the availability of an effective treatment. In our estimation, this has exacerbated the spread of the virus and increased the likelihood of further infections in states that choose not to follow CDC guidelines and the measures taken in California, New York and Washington to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Indeed, a recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that people become willing to engage in market activities when “the expected cost of being infected is smaller.” In the paper’s benchmark model, “when vaccines and treatments don’t arrive before the epidemic is over and health care capacity is limited, containment policy saves roughly half-a-million lives in the U.S.“
Finally, the mortality rate for people infected with Covid-19 is increasing steadily and reached 3.4% this week. That percentage is based on current data, but recent reports from nursing homes and hospitals suggest that the 3.4% rate most likely underestimates the risk of dying from infection.
For one, a supervisor with the New York City Fire Department EMS squad detailed that on ordinary days, 20 people in New York City die at home. During the Covid-19 epidemic, the FDNY is answering 200 calls per day of deaths at home. Because of the shortages, those deaths go untested and we can only surmise how many others there are.
For more information on how the coronavirus is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.