Deadly Alignment

I posted this on Twitter on April 9th. I realized that I should have written it more clearly. I was simply trying to stress that we were about to see another steep climb in cases like we had seen with BA.1 in December.

I use the prior three weeks of data to calculate the first derivative of COVID cases. It provides a means to assess the rate of climb or decrease in cases, and also allows for some projection forward. I’ve used ten days as a cutoff to have a reasonably good estimate of the future. The second derivative is simply a measure of the rate at which the first derivative is going. When they are both positive, that’s a bad sign and why I expected cases to start rising very steeply around April 19th. This is the image on the right from above.

The data table showing the raw numbers for the first derivative is below. It should be pretty clear that this indicates that we are entering a rapid rate as expected. There is obviously some variation on a daily basis, partly because some states don’t report on weekends and others only once per week. This poses a major challenge for keeping tabs on what is happening day to day in each county, metro area, or state.

When that derivative is plotted against cases, it’s quite clear that we are starting a surge in the US that will continue to grow faster over the next ten days.

There are other events that have aligned that will amplify this problem significantly. Every 33 years, Easter (Christian), Passover (Jewish), and Ramadan (Islam) occur about the same time. I’ve previously written how religion plays a role in the spread of outbreaks and/or pandemics. In addition, spring break was occuring in a number of areas near this time frame. That means somewhat of a perfect storm to create an additional acceleration in cases in about 4-6 weeks.

If that wasn’t enough, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the mask mandate on public transportation on April 18th. This was a terrible decision that will impact the health and safety of a number of people, particularly those who must use public transportation, which are often people of color, children under five who cannot be vaccinated, and those with compromised immune systems. This decision is almost analogous to removing airbags requirements from vehicles since they don’t prevent all traffic deaths. That will drive cases up in May as well.

Yes, a number of people use the wrong kinds of masks and/or use them incorrectly. We should be providing respirators to the public and teaching them how they should be used.

The longer we fail to take intervention measures, the more sickness and death that will occur, and the longer we will drag the pandemic out and risk even more variants. One of the major messages that isn’t being communicated enough is that death is NOT the only adverse outcome. Most people have heard of long COVID, but it doesn’t seem to register with people that there are considerably increased risks of chronic diseases from an infection. We are putting a very unfair burden on the future health of children.

The US is failing at mitigation. There are simple solutions that everyone should be taking. Wear a respirator around others. Get vaccinated. Improve ventilation in buildings. Avoid indoor gatherings with others outside of your household. In short, care about others.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)

Be a mighty one.

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