Covid in the USA

Updated: October 1, 2020; Published: August 11, 2020
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To understand the dynamics of the Covid-19 pandemic in the USA, it is not sufficient to look at the aggregated figures at the national level. The US is not experiencing one single long wave, but several regional “short waves” that have been delayed by lockdowns and the spread of the virus itself.

Fortunately, most US states have seen a much lower death rate than New York and New Jersey. This is likely due to better pandemic policies (e.g. not sending patients into nursing homes) and better medical treatment protocols (e.g. focusing on early, non-invasive interventions).

The regional coronavirus dynamics in the US moreover indicate that state-level cloth mask requirements have had little impact on the development of infection rates, as many states with mandatory face masks still saw infection numbers surge (e.g. California and Hawaii).

Adjusted for population growth, the Covid-19 death rate in the US is currently comparable to the 1968/69 Hong Kong flu and about 30% lower than the 1957/1958 Asian flu. Adjusted for population aging, the Covid-19 death rate is still significantly below the rate of these two influenza pandemics.

1) US monthly mortality since 1960

US: Monthly all-cause deaths since 1960 (Whelan/CDC)

2) US Covid cases (positive tests) by region

USA: Regional Covid-19 waves (Source: C19C and 91-DIVOC)

3) US Covid cases (positive tests) and deaths (overall)

Note: The increase in “cases” (positive tests) is partly driven by an increase in testing. The sharp drop at the end of the chart is due to delayed reporting.

US: Covid “cases” and deaths (Source: Coronavirus Bell Curve)

4) US Covid deaths per 100,000 people, by state

US Covid deaths per 100,000 people by state (Source: Statista)

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