A New Signal in the COVID-19 Data

Last month I shared some analysis of COVID-19 in the United States indicating that growth was increasing beyond the large population centers to more rural parts of the country. Since Trump support is stronger in rural America, this indicated that the virus was going to become more immediate to large parts of the country that supported Trump in the 2016 election.

In the last few weeks however it seems that there has been a reversion to equal growth in rural and urban areas indicating that rural communities have woken up to the danger and are taking serious precautions. However, the growth in states that voted for Trump is still higher than the rest of the country.

Here is a chart based on the 7-day rolling growth rates by state. The green lines show the correlation to growth with how rural a state is (green lines). The orange lines show the correlation to growth with how heavily the state voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

The dotted lines show the trends over time. As can be seen, the correlations were mostly in lockstep through May, however in the last few weeks the trends are diverging. As rural communities react, it is more urban areas in Trump supporting states that are seeing the most growth.

This can be seen more clearly if we focus on the last 4 weeks of data:

The implications at this point should be keeping anybody in the Trump campaign, who is alert to these trends, awake at night. The low turnout for Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was likely partially caused by legitimate concerns about attending an indoor event in the current environment. The campaign believes that these rallies are very effective, and right now the polling is not looking good for Trump, so I expect that there will be a lot of pressure to hold more rallies, probably in outdoor arenas. The pictures from the 3,000-person student event in Arizona on Tuesday, 23rd June show almost nobody wearing face protection, and amazingly disease prevention seems to be a political football now in the United States.

The United States came out of lockdown before the first wave was squashed.

Stay safe and keep others safe. Wear face protection in public places.

(Raw data for the above charts available on request).

27 Comments

  1. It appears even my dire predictions in the last post were too optimistic:

    https://www.newsweek.com/texass-largest-hospital-reaches-100-percent-icu-capacity-1513481

    I figured Houston would fill its ICUs in a few days. In fact, they did so yesterday. That’s the nature of exponential growth.

    Now, there are limits and there are limits. This is the former. There’s probably still some surge capacity available, and doctors can still open up a few more beds by shuffling patients around, cancelling more surgeries, etc. But they will hit their hard limits soon. If Texas was at its plateau phase, I’d even say they might be able to ride it out. But they’re still in the exponential phase. They haven’t even instituted a full quarantine yet. As the numbers I pulled from NYC show, caseloads double *after* a quarantine is started. Texas is not yet even at that start line.

    We’re seeing the same in Florida which just posted a daily case rate of nearly 9k yesterday.

    The problem with all of this isn’t just the numbers. After all, California also is seeing big growth in their numbers. The difference is, FL/TX/AZ politicians have conditioned their residents to reject science and isolation / quarantine recommendations. They’ve poisoned the well. Even if their governors re-institute quarantine by law, many of their residents won’t follow it, because their worst paranoid conspiracy tendencies have been fanned and given credence. You can’t put that genie back in the bottle. If TX re-imposes quarantine, I wouldn’t be surprised to see people rioting in the streets with their rifles yelling about their “freedoms”.

    Chris made a very astute post a couple years ago about how a government’s power rests on very shaky grounds. By and large, if people decide to simply stop following orders, there’s very little the government can do. Even calling in the army won’t help: they’ll run out of bullets long before the country runs out of bodies. Gandhi used this understanding to drive the most powerful empire in the world, out of his country. I suspect Abbott knows if he re-imposes quarantine, his residents will likely do the same to him. And like all politicians, he’ll be more than willing to let thousands of Texans die rather than risk his own re-election chances.

  2. Texas’ Republican governor is an idiot. All Republicans are.

    What in their universe tells them the way to outwit a microbe, any microbe, is to take no protective measures?

    Abbot squandered the work of Harris County residents early on, when it appeared residents flattened the curve and made a big temporary hospital bed installation at a convention center unnecessary by staying home and wearing masks when out.

    The county judge, Lena Hidalgo, and Houston mayor, Sylvester Turner, acknowledged this work. The idiot Republican governor acknowledged only the restrictions.

    Anyone who votes for any Republican in the forthcoming elections needs a dementia check.

    Of course, the effort felt like inconvenience, not work. So when Abbott communicated “Let ‘er rip”, many Texans did.

    I’m in my early 70s, and it’s possible the Rs are going to kill me.

    1. Bobo, it is one of my most fervent wishes that you, and Mary, and all our experienced Dems ride this out in good health. We need all of you for the big job we have ahead in cleaning up this mess. And I like you all very much and want you around.

      I will disagree one point about Abbott- he’s not stupid. He’s a hypocrite and and an unprincipled partisan hack, but he knows this is bad. The trouble is that he hitched his political wagon to the “My ignorance is as good as your knowledge” crowd, and he’s now stuck between them and the awful reality of skyrocketing COVID-19 cases. I’d laugh long and loud at his predicament except for the fact that the choices that have boxed him into a political corner are impoverishing and literally killing people.

      1. I still vote for stupid. Hypocrisy is because somebody always calls it out.

        I want you to be safe, Fly. I value your posts here and sometimes I’ve been known to quote you to others, especially your postpone infection advice. 🙂

    1. This truly makes me fear for the country. 10 years ago, someone ranting about 5g, being persecuted like jews in nazi germany, and deep state perps would be labeled a paranoid schizophrenic and be put on antipsychotics. Now, they form a large base of political power. The lunatics truly are running the asylum, which bodes ill for the rest of us who have to share it with them.

  3. CDC is announcing that based on blood tests, 10 times as many Americans have been infected with Covid as previously reported. Now, this is the mad tyrant’s CDC, so who knows what to believe anymore.

    Guess that the fascist party’s long term plan to destroy the credibility of government organizations has come to fruition.

    But if true, interesting, It means that yes, as I said, eventually virtually everyone will get this virus, and yes, it is not nearly as lethal as suggested. Now, the long term non-lethal effects are are stating to be reported, that is another matter.

      1. New Zealand has (or had) 22 dead among 1520 confirmed cases. I am not sure that the model of what to do can be applied to the u.s., which pretty much has done the opposite. And to be honest, I don’t think NZ’s total confirmed cases is a large enough sample size to extrapolate to what will happen in failed states.

      2. Fly, Dr Gupta (on MSNBC) just spoke to your question about the underlying differences between the U. S. And New Zealand. He stated that America tests 12 people for one positive response whereas NZ tests 270 for one positive result. Trump’s testing boasts are aggregate numbers but if we compare on a per capita basis, by far the better metric, the U. S. Is behind 23 countries (Dr. Gupta).

        My own rather simplistic answer to this question Fly is the leader of the two countries.

        Thanks for your kind words Fly. I’m fortunate to be able to shelter but it’s been heartbreaking and infuriating to watch the dismantling of our democracy.

      3. Hi Dinsdale and Flypusher asked about the NZ numbers

        I agree the numbers are too small to make a comparison – I would also add that I believe our fatality rate was actually too high

        Over half of the deaths were when the virus got into one Rest Home
        Without that the percentage fatalities would have been halved – I suspect the overall number in the USA will be close to that

        Which ties into the CDC estimate that the actual number of infected individuals is ten times as high as reported

  4. OT: Saw that last week the Washington Post wrote an article about how they fired someone for a Halloween costume they thought was offensive, worn at an office party two years ago. My first thought was that WaPo, like other institutions that used to be center-left, is going off the far-left deep end and trading venerability and objectivity for neo-Puritanism.
    While I still think that, there’s another problem here, which is that the Post wants to report on the transgressions of random nobodies. I realize that there are those who think me a Confederate sympathizer for believing that cop shootings are a problem but are in general not racially motivated, or that wearing blackface isn’t an unforgivable sin, but surely even those people would agree that this story didn’t deserve to be national news. I see two possibilities, neither good. One is that this was office politics on steroids. The other is that this is reality TV for the political class. Get stirred up over the actions of somebody you’ve never heard of, who isn’t powerful, and who you’ll never hear about again, all for entertainment/ad revenue.

  5. I got to see the regional difference in mask-wearing firsthand. In New York, it’s mandatory and almost everybody follows it. Back home in Kentucky, nobody bothers. Figures. It sucks being punished for someone else’s bad decision. The only thing to do now, other than minimize outings, is hope that the disease has already spread much more widely than we thought, which would mean it was less deadly than thought.

    “As rural communities react, it is more urban areas in Trump supporting states that are seeing the most growth.”
    Would local ordinances work? If cities are allowed to raise their minimum wage or enact curfews it doesn’t seem a stretch to require masks, restrict how many people can be in a business at once, etc.

    1. “Would local ordinances work? If cities are allowed to raise their minimum wage or enact curfews it doesn’t seem a stretch to require masks, restrict how many people can be in a business at once, etc.”

      From today’s NYTimes daily briefing:

      “The Republican governors in Texas and Arizona recently reversed course, letting local officials require masks inside businesses.”

      This implies they didn’t let local officials require masks previously.

      1. Remember though, usually the cult members are the ones that have good jobs and health care. The poor people aka black who vote Dem are the ones that will die by a larger per capita rate than the cult members. All part of the ultimate voter suppression plan.

        I said earlier, that even in the fantasy world that some live in where the election is run “fairly”, cult states like Florida that are decided by the narrowest of margins will still go to the tyrant. If 1000 more Dem voters than fascist voters die in Florida, that could be enough to keep the state for the tyrant. And Florida is likely looking at 10’s of thousands of deaths between now and Nov 3.

  6. ” Wear face protection in public places.”

    I suggest that the above be modified to state “WEAR FACE PROTECTION WHEN AROUND PEOPLE NOT IN ONE’S HOUSEHOLD”. A recent study in WA has indicated that there has been little increase in infection from the various protest marches in recent weeks, but there have several infection groupings that originated from house parties following the protest marches. So far I am not aware of any infections originating from the CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest), but there very well could be an infection grouping or spike, since many of the protestors have been casual regarding face protection and the tents have sometimes been close together. Plus there have been people from out of state.

  7. Washington is having a problem now largely due to a major burst in the infection rate primarily in three rural agricultural counties, Yakima, Franklin and Benton. One of which, Yakima, has a significant population. The three are located in South Central WA, a considerable distance from the Seattle Metropolitan area. The following will explain the situation.

    For those of you who are not familiar with Washington State demographics and politics, Yakima County is one of the reddest counties in WA. It has several meat packing plants and agricultural processing plants. It has a large Hispanic population, with a large portion engaged in agriculture. It also has a large Native American reservation with the Yakama Nation. It tended to scoff at the CoronaVirus scare until recently. Often times the recommendations to wear masks and social distance have and are frequently being ignored. All in all, Yakima County is more like one of the other cult states listed in the NY travel ban, than the blue area in and around the Seattle Metropolitan area, where approximately 60-70% of the people live. Unfortunately, it has a significant population with around 4% of the state’s total population. The other problematic rural counties (Benton and Franklin) have much smaller populations. In general the other rural counties are progressing well. Of course, King County and Seattle’s home county, being the largest and the earliest hotspot, is progressing slightly slower. It is in Phase II of the recovery now, but masks and stay at home continue to be highly recommended and for the most part followed. Most of Western WA is in Phase II and is beginning to near transition to Phase III. Some of the small rural counties are now in Phase III. In much of the state the transmission rate is less than 1.

    Governor Inslee’s new policy makes wearing of masks in public areas including outside, when around people mandatory statewide. In Yakima County, businesses are at risk of having their licenses suspended if they do not enforce the mask policy. He is determined to beat the CoronaVirus and the large majority of the state’s population supports the policies.

    For those of you familiar with Colin Woodward’s the Eleven Nations of North America, Eastern WA is considered part of the Far West. Whereas Western WA is part of the Left Coast. So the two areas have totally different outlooks.

  8. Truly, this is a legit question. I really want to know.

    If the North-East states wanted to isolate themselves from the South and other states that are cult states, stating in the interest of the health of the North-East states’ citizens, all travel to and from cult states was blocked, including trade, would it be possible? Could the North-East make a go of it, say, for 4-6 months? Could they legally put their National Guard units on the southern and western borders and block all inbound traffic, as well as at airports?

    What would be the legal and economic fallout?

      1. NJ, NY, and CT issued a joint 14 day quarantine today for people traveling from any number of cult states. 8 cult states and Washington, to be precise.

        I am talking about cutting off all travel and trade with cult states. What would be the legal and economic outcome?

      2. It’s really hard to drive to Honolulu from Maui. Driving there from California is pretty much out of the question.

        The state of Hawaii had a relatively simple challenge figuring out how to enforce travel restrictions. Now look at a Rand McNally highway map and figure out how Pennsylvania could do it.

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