March of this year coronavirus exploded in New York, especially New York City (NYC), plagued by nearly 2,600 deaths (over 300 per million population) by month’s end. Worse yet, new deaths were spreading rapidly. The disease was slower to arrive in Chicago, with only 61 total deaths by the end of March: a mere 12 per million population, less than 1/25th the number seen in NYC.
Not only did Chicago have far fewer total deaths, they were seeing fewer new deaths each day:
Clearly Chicago, although victim to coronavirus like all of us, was far less stricken than NYC. It’s no surprise that New York state put serious lockdown measures in place — the toughest in the nation — while Illinois implemented social distancing but with far less severity (it has been ranked 23rd out of 50 states on the scale of lockdown strictness). One wonders, how are they doing?
Both strategies worked; both slowed the rapidly rising epidemic. But NYC’s stricter approach worked better. A lot better.
Chicago has managed to slow the rise of the epidemic, but not stop it. The death rate is still rising, albeit slowly, but shows signs of accelerating recently. Already well over 10 deaths/day/million population, it’s a severe strain on the health care system. Loosening even more their lockdown measures, will accelerate the curve, bending it upward and raising the death rate even further. It seems to me, a crisis will be unavoidable.
NYC, however, has shown us how to recover after being blasted by this epidemic. Not only has the rate of new deaths dropped as rapidly as could realistically be expected, NYC has shown the fortitude and courage to stick with their winning strategy. If they can hold the course, the death rate may soon fall below 10 deaths/day/million population, not what anyone would call “good” but for NYC, some relief to the nation’s most overworked health care system.
The above graph incluces solid lines to show “smoothed” values, for better clarity; it helps remove the confounding influence of the large fluctuations. An easier way is just to plot 7-day running means:
My conclusions: 1. Social distancing works, but when done poorly the death rate can still rise, albeit more slowly. 2. Lockdown works better, much better, and can actually drive the death rate down. 3. When the rate keeps rising, it will exceed tolerance levels — sooner or later, probably sooner.
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