Hopeful Metrics on COVID-19 as of May 20

By Dennis Boone

Health-care executives across the nation, like their counterparts in elective office, are anxiously studying metrics on the COVID-19 pandemic as states lift restrictions on business activity. They might take some measure of comfort from the latest statistics on the spread compiled by various public and private organizations.

The Web site rt.live, for example, provides daily updates on rates of transmission for each state, and its latest showed that Missouri and Kansas remain well below the threshold used in immunology to discern whether the virus is still spreading or coming into containment.

The Rt value, comparable to the R0 (R-naught) often cited by medical professionals, currently stands at .83 for Missouri and .90 for Kansas. As the site continues to analyze data, it has determined that Missouri achieved that rough containment status on April 6, and Kansas fell below the 1.0 threshold on April 15.

The site also contains rolling 7-day averages for new cases of COVID-19, and those offer hopeful metrics, as well. For Missouri, the peak was reached on April 8 at 237.87; the most recent figure on a consistent downward path is 137.63. In Kansas, the peak of 267.93 on May 1 now stands at 176.56.

Perhaps most encouraging of all is what’s being recorded in Georgia, where Gov. Brain Kemp was roundly criticized for his early decision to ease business restrictions, a move that many said would lead to a second-wave outbreak. The state’s Rt value stood at .79 on April 23, when he gave the first order, then fell to .76 a week later, when the state’s sheltering order was rescinded. Defying projections of a new outbreak, that Rt value has held constant at that level since then.

Only two states—Wyoming at 1.02 and Minnesota at 1.01—remain above the threshold for spread, and both are on track to reach containment this week. The site’s biweekly breakdown showed that 30 states were in growth mode six weeks ago, but within two weeks, that number had fallen to just 10. Two weeks later, 48 states had reached containment status.

As for the human toll, the site worldometers.com shows that the global case total surpassed 5 million today, with more than 325,000 deaths, 93,000 of those in the United States. It also shows that the U.S. recorded 1,003 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, the lowest weekday level since March 31.

Weekday statistics discount the so-called “weekend effect” that consistently undercounts deaths because not all regions report over the weekends. While that figure spiked on Tuesday, to 1,552, it was still more than 42 percent below the 2,683 weekday deaths reported for April 21.