On Net Good News, I Think

Today’s article will be all about COVID-19 and its current effect on America with a brief guess/projection.

As my regular readers know I follow the 14 day rolling average of new cases very closely. It has served me well as a predictor of the future and I see no reason to abandon it at this point. I predicted a spike in cases as a result of people’s careless actions around the February 7th Super Bowl and the numbers appear to be proving me correct. Fortunately the spike appears to be a small one.

As I pen this article the last day’s data that is available is for February 27th. I will deal with the period of February 21 – 27. The 21st was exactly two weeks after the game and about where you would expect the cases to begin to manifest themselves. On the 21st 55,195 new cases were reported and the downward trend was 44%. Considering the numbers of about a month prior both are fantastic news. Over the seven day period I’m citing the new cases averaged 67,998 per day and the rate of decrease averaged 35%. Again the numbers when compared to just a month or so prior are great but the pace of decrease slowed while the number of new cases increased over that short run.

My conclusion is that a Super Bowl spike did occur, it is likely still occurring and we may see a decrease in the deceleration of new infections for another week to ten days. More importantly it appears to be small. Any new infection is bad especially if you or a loved one are the number. In the greater scheme of things this is good. The next question is why did this happen. There are several factors and I’ll try to cover a few in the next few sentences.

The biggest is most likely the actions of Americans. There were definitely fewer Super Bowl gatherings this year. To put it in present day “corona talk” – social distancing. People are wearing masks much more (although not at Super Bowl parties). An ancillary effect of that is that regular cold and flu infections are down by a huge margin. America now has federal leadership in the fight against COVID-19; it certainly didn’t under the previous administration which is becoming more apparent on an almost daily basis. Last and certainly not least are vaccinations.

While the previous administration deserves some limited credit for the development of some of the vaccines it was a colossal failure at getting the vaccine into people’s arms which is all that matters. A vaccine in a warehouse protects no one and prevents nothing. The incoming Biden administration announced what seemed like an unachievable goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in their first 100 days. They vaccinated 50 million in their first month and appear well on their way to exceeding their goal by miles. There is a lot we simply do not know about the current vaccines and it is appearing that they may be effective at stopping the transmission of the virus from the first dose (the vaccines currently in use are two does vaccines).

Last week brought two pieces of good news on the vaccine front. The American FDA gave the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine emergency use authorization on Saturday. That not only increases supply, the J&J vaccine has two different features which in many cases will be advantages. It does not require a second dose and it does not require ultra-cold storage. Both make it much more implementable with rural and difficult to reach populations. The more people we vaccinate and the more quickly we do it the better off we as a whole will be. This includes everyone, not just U.S. citizens in America. This is a global problem – that is the very definition of a pandemic.

The other good news is that last week Canada approved the AstraZeneca vaccine. I have looked at the actions of similar advanced countries (i.e. Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom) for clues and omens during this crisis. The AstraZeneca vaccine has not had as smooth a path as several of the others to date but if Canada approved it they must have overcome their hurdles.

Get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible, wear your mask, social distance especially over Easter (April 4th and a much bigger holiday than the Super Bowl) and wash your hands. We are far from out of the woods but I think things are looking up.

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