COVID-19: New York puts Sweden to Shame

I’ve received some bullshit comments over the years, but every now and then one just goes that extra bullshit mile:

Yeah, holding NY up as an example doesn’t make sense. Stockholm has better numbers than NYC, and Stockholm did (almost) nothing. Cuomo’s response seems to have been worse than neutral, that is, it seems to have made things worse. Does anyone seriously think that any state in the US is going to catch up to NYC’s death total? Even on a per capita basis?

Let’s start with some facts. Andrew Cuomo is governor of New York state; here’s the NY case load (per million population) compared to Sweden’s (per million population):

Here’s the daily death toll in NY compared to Sweden’s:

NY did a terrific job under the leadership of governor Andrew Cuomo. They’re now doing better than Sweden. Way better, in fact, because they’ve managed strong downward trends such as Swedes have not yet seen. NY has experience doing it.

When you crush the curve you save a lot of lives, because if you don’t, you pay the price day after day after day …

Sweden didn’t do “(almost) nothing.” They made few strict rules, but many and detailed recommendations — and in Sweden that has a chance to succeed, as Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter, Sweden’s ambassador to the United States, said in a recent interview,

A key distinction for Sweden is that its government believed it didn’t need to enforce guidelines regarding social distancing on a population that would heed the advice of the country’s independent public agencies. According to polling data, Swedes have a high level of trust in the country’s public institutions.

This trust is a “fundamental element of Swedish society,” said Olofsdotter. “That’s why we can work with recommendations, because most people actually follow them. It’s part of who we are. Of course there are people who don’t, but the main bulk of the people do.”

Despite some actual legal restrictions combined with widespread compliance with recommendations, Sweden has still seen case and death levels rise to meet or exceed those of the rest of Europe. Their death toll per capita is currently higher than in the U.S., which is giving them a bad reputation in Europe, and even among some Swedes.

Then there’s the fact that now in Stockholm, they’re considering shutting down bars and restaurants that ignore recommended restrictions. The signs are in place, and Sweden is open to re-thinking their approach; they’ve known all along that the open strategy is an experiment and that they may or may not need to change course.

They avoided lockdown, instead depending on voluntary compliance, and it worked, in a way — they have flattened the curve, even turned it downward, but haven’t crushed it like other European countries did. More and more Swedes are becoming aware that when you crush the curve you save a lot of lives, because if you don’t, you pay the price day after day after day.

Sweden sure didn’t crush it like NY did.

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15 responses to “COVID-19: New York puts Sweden to Shame

  1. Pat Cassen

    Showing your age – Mario is Andrew’s daddy —-

    [Response: Thanks. Fixed. Yes, I’m old.]

  2. Jim Prescott

    Andrew Cuomo is governor of NY

  3. Yeah, Sweden just surpassed the 70k cases milestone, which is pretty bad for a nation of just over 10 million. (Current cumulative caseload, per Worldometers: 73,061, with 5,433 dead.

    On the other hand, I note that in the last 5 days, they reportedly lost:

    July 5: 1
    July 4: 2
    July 3: 2
    July 2: 1
    July 1: 3

    They don’t report recoveries or active cases, but I suspect, based on the deaths reported, that the active caseload may well be down significantly from peak.

    Plus, they haven’t reported a day with 1,000 new cases since June 26, when they logged 1,239. (Yesterday, the new cases reported were 433.) So something seems to have shifted. If so, I’m genuinely glad for them.

    • Daniel Gullberg

      We have to wait and see, it’s vacation time now. So far people actually keeps distances and things goes on. Not as it was before COVID-19, but people have even got more polite since they shouldn’t be close to each other in food stores etc etc. But don’t get wrong, we have have our share imbeciles, too. Who insist to travel around as nothing happened. I’m not utterly concerned that we actually will spread the virus, but there is a chance to bring it back home and that’s bad.

  4. The best way to support Tamino’s view is to compare Sweden with a few other European states: those namely which were heavily aggressed by the virus long before it began to ‘work’ in Sweden, and therefore started careful lockdowns, e.g.:
    – Belgium (853 death total per million, currently Nr 1 in the world’s list)
    – Italy (578, Nr 4)
    – Spain (605, Nr 3)
    Sweden is now Nr 5 with 532. Nr 2 is UK with 666; The US are at position 7 with 400, but NY is over 1,700!

    Here is a graph with linear plots of the weekly running means of new cases per million, for the 4 European states:

    I think the graph speaks for itself.

    But in fact, it is not quite correct, let alone would be the comparison of Sweden with New York.

    Simply because when you compare cases per million, you do not consider a factor at least as important as the population, namely the population’s density, which dramatically increases contacts and hence infections:

    – New York: 10,350 inhabs / km²
    – Belgium: 370
    – Italy: 200
    – Spain: 93
    – Sweden: 24

    And this makes the dumb (anonymous) statement:

    Yeah, holding NY up as an example doesn’t make sense. Stockholm has better numbers than NYC, and Stockholm did (almost) nothing.

    look even much more dumb. Why did the guy not compare NY with Australia?

    J.-P. Dehottay

    Data source: ECDC

  5. Billy Pilgrim

    – New York: 10,350 inhabs / km²
    – Belgium: 370
    – Italy: 200
    – Spain: 93
    – Sweden: 24

    Apples to apples???

    • Billy Pilgrim

      ” Apples to apples??? ”

      It seems that either you didn’t understand my comment, or you read only these few lines.

      That was what I was talking about: namely that beyond a population’s size, you have to take its density into account as well, thus giving ‘cases par day per million per 1000 km²’ or so.

      How? No se!

      Maybe by applying some weighting function slightly decreasing the ratio when density increases.

  6. Bob Loblaw

    …and are all those people evenly spread in each country? Or perhaps are there are areas of concentration where population density is above average? Maybe national averages a re a good measure?

    After all, a recent statistical survey has conclusively determined that the average person has one testicle and one breast.

  7. Bob Loblaw

    Gad. That should say “national averages are not a good measure”. An extra “are” or two, too.

  8. Billy Pilgrim

    I understand and agree with your general argument, my problem is with the numbers you used. The following would be a much fairer comparison:

    Sweden, with a population density of 23 inhabs/Km2 (Wikipedia), has had 545 deaths per million from the virus (Worldometer). This doesn’t tell the whole story though, because most of those deaths were in Stockholm, where it’s much more crowded, 5,200/Km2.

    New York State, with a population density of 159/Km2, has had 1,663 deaths per million. This doesn’t tell the whole story though, because most of those deaths were in New York City, where it’s much more crowded, 10,715/Km2.

    So, apples to apples, you need to compare the two cities….
    Stockholm: 5,200/Km2
    NYC: 10,715/Km2

    • Billy Pilgrim

      I understand and agree with yours. If I had data for the comparison, I would present it in graphical form right now.

      But… the problem isn’t in comparing NY city and Stockholm.
      The problem is: why did Sweden so bad in comparison with Europe?

      And, since I read a comment by Rune Valaker on another Tamino thread I could ask: why does Norway suddenly look like this?

      Look at the grey plot: EU + Switzerland + Norway + a few Balkan states not (yet?) in. 33 states…

      J.-P. D.

      • Billy Pilgrim

        I actually thought Sweden would have done worse than it has. There are so many variables though. So many nuances and unknowns from one place to another.

      • Weird, that Norway data is supposed to come from the ECDC, but contradicts the ECDC data for Norway:
        Select Norway, and there is no increase in cases at the end of June

      • Marco

        Thanks a lot for your valuable remark! No idea what happened there.
        I didn’t imagine Norway doing that bad, but…

        The graph has been corrected below the link. Now, Norway’s data perfectly reflects the plot’s colour :-)

        J.-P. D.