CDC Estimates of the Covid-19 Toll

[Update – Figure added 3/14 1:30pm Central. Source: Torsten Slok, DB.]

From The Hill today:

One model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that between 160 million and 210 million Americans could contract the disease over as long as a year. Based on mortality data and current hospital capacity, the number of deaths under the CDC’s scenarios ranged from 200,000 to as many as 1.7 million.

It found as many as 21 million people might need hospitalization, a daunting figure in a nation with just about 925,000 hospital beds.

In contrast, flu-related deaths this season are estimated to range between 20,000-50,000.

The article continues:

Another model built by experts at Resolve to Save Lives, a global health nonprofit, and the Council on Foreign Relations found the number of potential deaths could range from as few as 163,500, if the virus is no more deadly than seasonal influenza, to more than 1.6 million if the virus carries a mortality rate of just 1 percent.

For the CFR study, see here. See also Sheri Fink’s NYT article today.

92 thoughts on “CDC Estimates of the Covid-19 Toll

  1. Steven Kopits

    China has closed its 13 infection hospitals in Wuhan. Official infection count there is 81,000, not 500 million. China is slowly recovering.

    My model shows Italy peaking at 30,000 reported cases and 2,000 deaths, not 40 million cases and 2 million deaths.

    Quarantine works.

    Do the math yourself.

    1. macroduck

      The CDC estimate is worst-case, not a central estimate. However, your model, which you do not reveal, produces a lower number than any non-partisan estimate I have seen. You rely on Chinese data, which are always above board and not subject to political manipulation, unlike what we hear from the White House.

      They are the CDC. You are you. You do the math.

    2. macroduck

      Italy, a developed country with universal access to healthcare, now reports 1,265 deaths from Covid-19. My “model” says that means the U.S. will reach 6,808 deaths and counting – three times your estimate, just by using another source of data. My “model” assumes Covid-19 is not doomed to a seasonal death and that we don’t reach the point Italy has reached today before the tilt of the earth* saves us.

      *The tilt of the earth is a science thing, so subject to denial. I, however, believe that seasons exist.

    3. grhabyt

      Yes. a full quarantine works. But it also shuts down your economy. Hubei is receiving massive support from the rest of China. Lombardy from the rest of Italy, and the EU. This is both obvious direct supplies and medical staff, but also in mortgage holidays, suspension of bankruptcies, small business loans and grants. But at some point this becomes unsustainable. You need people to go to work to produce GDP. You need students to go school or you get no trained workers for the future. Can you do much more online than before? Yes. But you can’t put it all online, and even the share that does go online will take a significant productivity hit.
      Even if you have eliminated COVID-19 from Hubei, are you going to keep up the travel ban to/from the rest of China forever? Between China and the rest of the world? Once the virus has hit Africa, South Asia, South America, where quarantines will never be sufficiently effective (especially when symptomless people can carry the disease), there will be continual reinfection in any developed country or region that has even vaguely open borders.
      Really this only stops with either the worse case scenario from the CDC that Menzie posted, or (if we are really lucky) an early vaccine or antiviral treatment that comes out before lockdown has taken the economy into a depression.

    4. baffling

      china showed it has far more ability to shut down and quarantine than the west. trump wasted an entire month, because he was afraid to admit this could come ashore. just curious steven, were does the 30,000 cases come from? when dealing with a biological, “reported” is not the important piece of information. the actual infection rate is what counts. until we actually get some testing off the ground, “reported” is not of best value-flawed data at best. if you estimate 2000 deaths (which i don’t agree with. it will be more, unless you revert back to your idea from hurricane maria not to count the sick and elderly as they would have died anyway), then a 1% mortality rate implies 200,000 infected. i think your model if rather flawed, since your output is an order of magnitude off from what the data says.

      trump was playing the “reported” game early on, and it allowed the disease to spread. we now have community transmission in the largest us cities. burying ones head in the sand in the case of coronavirus is stupid. as i have stated repeatedly on this blog, from early on, this is much more dangerous than the flu. we are not prepared. and if we reenact the chinese response, we can help curb it, but are we willing and able to incur the economic costs? this would not have been so costly if the trump administration had expanded our testing capabilities a month ago, instead of maintaining a faith based approach. and now he is blaming others for the lack of testing. a true demonstration of leadership and courage.

    5. pgl

      Your model? Your math? Lord – do not get me started. What’s your estimate of deaths in Puerto Rico again? 15 – same as Trump’s guess for COVID-19 cases here.

    6. Ulenspiegel

      Please Mr Kopits, you model is strange.

      1 dead person today means with 1% lethality 100 infected THREE WEEKS ago, with 0.5% lethality around 200 infected THREE WEEKS ago.

      In the meantime (three weeks) one infected person has generated at least 3^3 =27 new cases if not in quaratine. For each dead patient you have 500-1000 infected even in China. You only use the diagnosed cases, that is lame. China had millions of infected. Italy has at least 1 million.

      By comparing diagnosed cases and dead people * 1000 you get a number for people in quarintaine and people that still spread the decease. It is obvious that China missed most infecetd, they avoided a spread by shutting down whole regions. The USA is in the same situation. You have today around 50000- 100000 infected people.

      There are only a few countries in which the high number of identified cases in relation to dead people indicate that they tested when it mattered, i.e. quartine worked.

      1. pgl

        You may be new here so let me clue you in on a secret. Kopits has one goal in life – getting on Fox and Friends as often as possible which requires he comes up with all sorts of creative intellectual garbage to make Trump look good. No – he does not have a real model. He just makes this stuff up as he goes. And it works apparently because he does get on Fox and Friends, which of course is the dumbest show on the TV.

    7. Mark Arnest

      “My model shows Italy peaking at 30,000 reported cases and 2,000 deaths, not 40 million cases and 2 million deaths.”

      Your model needs adjustment, since the death toll in Italy passed 2,000 yesterday and the reported cases passed 30,000 today. The good news is that the rate of spread seems to be decreasing, at least in daily percentage (“only” a 13% increase each of the past two days).

  2. pgl

    “In the United States, where the federal government has been slower to act, state governments have moved to squelch outbreaks in their backyards. Mobile testing stations have opened in Minnesota and Colorado. Large gatherings have been prohibited in Washington, New York, Oregon and elsewhere. Several states have won approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin testing patients for the virus, and New York has even rolled out its own plan to make tens of thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer every day.”

    When Trump finally decided to say something yesterday all I could think of was the line “lead, follow, or get out of the way”. Of course Trump cannot lead but at least this clown decided to get out of the way. Let’s hope at least. So we are back in the pre FEMA days where the states have to lead because the right wing agenda has always been to neuter the Federal government.

    1. Willie

      He looked out of it and his breathing was labored. Even if he is not sick, the fact that he is actually responsible for something seems to be taking a toll.

    2. JF

      States must lead as the national government does not hold the polis power – this is the legal doctrine that says a state may grab you to get you out of the way so a public health emergency can be addressed.

      Last time I was involved in these matters before retiring, and I was directly involved, the law held that the national government was NOT granted such power.

      The national government has the power to tax and spend for the public welfare (legislative article), it must be supportive of States. We must fear the alternative where the national government displaces State and local governance (cf. Marcos, Saddam Hussein, all other central dictatorships), these societies fail in a crisis because they become and are displaced from governing themselves.

      Now, leadership is something else. A national government that offers a thoughtful vision of what can be done, and is trusted, and supportive, can help the States effect such a vision. Compare the CDC new voicing about using a 50 person crowd as a standard if distancing. The CDC is just communicating, it has no power to effect this directly. But in voicing this, it may in fact become the law in State and local jurisdictions, via the governing done by our governments at that level. And these governments have the power to effect that standards. As they had before they joined to frame a national government.

      We need much better journalism. Economists might become better informed too.

      But, let us also recognize that the US form has great strengths (sure, weaknesses too). The proper role for our national government is to be supportive.

  3. Jeffrey J. Brown

    Following are links to the two better articles I have seen on the Coronavirus. In the Atlantic article, the author noted that Dr. Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard predicted that the virus would not be containable, and he predicted that 40% to 70% of the global population will become infected with the virus.

    Current US population is around 330 million. If we assume that about half of the US population becomes infected with the virus, it would mean that about 170 million people in the US would become infected, and then the question is how many people die, i.e., what will the fatality risk be?

    The Atlantic: You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus
    James Hamblin, MD (2/24/20)

    NYT: The Coronavirus, by the Numbers
    James Gorman (3/6/20)

    The second article is an interview with Adam Kucharski, PhD, a mathematician who studies how diseases spread. Dr. Kucharski notes that the problem is that the estimated fatality risk is the result of one uncertainty divided by another uncertainty, but he estimates that the probable range is between 0.5% and 2.0% of all infected persons with 1% being a reasonable working estimate.

    As we know, the risk is skewed toward older demographics, but he has a pretty stunning quantified estimate of that risk, to-wit, “When you get into the older groups, you’re potentially talking about 5 percent, 10 percent of cases being fatal.”

    In light of the 5% to 10% possible fatality risk for older people who are infected, it’s obvious why a public health official in Washington State advised everyone age 60 and over in the center of the outbreak area not to leave their houses.

    In any case, in my opinion the key question going forward is whether, and by how much, that the Coronavirus causes a material increase in total all-cause deaths, especially above and beyond what we expect to see during a normal to bad flu season.

    In regard to the US, if we use a possible total infected number of about 170 million, and Dr. Kucharski’s estimated fatality risk range of 0.5% to 2.0%, it suggests an increase in total US annual fatalities of about one million to four million during the outbreak, rounding off to the nearest million. If we use the 1% number, and rounding off, it suggests an increase of two million. To put this in perspective, total US all-cause deaths are about 2.8 million per year.

    So, using Dr. Kucharski’s low case to high case, it suggests a possible (presumably temporary) increase in the total number of annual US deaths in a range from about 35% to about 140%.

    Given that the fatality risk is one uncertainty divided by another uncertainty, while total all-cause deaths is a certain number, it seems to me that if various governments could point out that they are not seeing a material increase in all-cause deaths, they would have done so. Insofar as I know, no governments have done so, and in that respect, their silence may be deafening. And to the extent that there have been reports of total fatalities, the reports have been troubling, e.g., the Washington Post article on satellite imagery showing that Iran is apparently constructing large mass graves:

    1. pgl

      “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been at work:”

      Excuse me dude but we have been over this before. They are testing which is a far cry from having a cure. And this testing seems to be more general research rather a specific cure of COVID-19. At least Gilead’s experiments have reached phase III trials. Come on ilsm – do not try biopharma research as you clearly are lost.

      1. ilsm

        Yes, how soon after it ‘works’ can they satisfy FDA standards does matter. If quite promising it could go out as “compassionate care” early.

        1. pgl

          That maybe the dumbest comment I have ever seen on this topic. If it works? Are you kidding me? I guess you have never read a damn thing on biopharma research.

    2. pgl

      The most promising potential treatment is going through phase III trials ala Gilead Sciences:

      ilsm is under the illusion we have a proven cure which of course shows he has no clue. Read this discussion with a little caution as the potential side effects are rather upsetting to the tummy. But maybe now we know why there has been a run on toilet paper. The benefits – questionable.

  4. Samuel

    In light of our current leadership and the admin policy response or lack of policy response even now, those numbers are both sobering and staggering. (From the GOP all I’ve seen, as of 3-14-2020, is some advertisements for private companies and joy talking the markets. Personal note – the folks buying TP at grocery store seemed determined but grim.)

  5. dilbert dogbert

    As an 84 year old, this from the CDC makes me want to go hide somewhere and stay there.
    Thank Glod we have such a competent team in the offal office that will end this pandemic pronto!!!
    Make America Safe Again.!!!!!

    1. pgl

      An 82 year old lady from Brooklyn died of coronavirus last night. She was NYC’s first victim which is sad. But of course Princeton Stevie boy’s “model” seems to show no deaths in my city. Yea – Stevie Boy is a clueless and heartless fool.

  6. Bruce Hall

    Still a lot of unknowns about how this disease could run its course. Some scientists believe this is going to be a chronic condition like other coronaviruses, but that it will become less lethal as the weakest among us die off. That’s a fairly bleak assessment, but a possibility. Others are more optimistic based on the massive effort to develop an effective vaccine(s). The fact that 97-98% of the confirmed cases survive means that it is not equivalent to a smallpox epidemic and that percentage should go up drastically with an effective vaccine.

    The biggest immediate problem is prioritizing care. Those who carry the virus and have no symptoms or mild symptoms will not be a heavy burden on the healthcare system, but can infect others. If they are unwilling to cooperate with self-quarantine efforts, then we have a much larger problem until an effective vaccine becomes available. I guess that depends on how many people have a #MeFirst attitude.

    Many hospitals have small additional capacity to handle an epidemic. A relative in Florida has a partner who works at Orlando Regional Medical Center who said that recently a patient died in the hallway because there were no more beds in the ICU. This is in part due to the Certificate Of Need laws in Florida and 35 other states that limit healthcare facility expansion based on “normal” patient population but can cause bed shortages in emergency situations ( Imagine if your state had CONs for gas stations, grocery stores, clothing stores, automotive service facilities, and other market-driven businesses; permits are not the same thing.

    While, as of today, the U.S, has the capacity to test about 26,000 people per day and increasing rapidly (, the immediate issue is going to be treatment capacity for those who become seriously ill.

    Depending on the speed at which the disease spreads, the first logistical issue after identification and before widespread vaccination may be deployment of military-style mobile hospital units dedicated to who have tested positive and displaying more serious symptoms. This would have two advantages: 1) concentrating the medical staff who are focused on this disease and 2) reducing the risk of contaminating an entire hospital with Covid-19. FEMA has some of these modular units and others are available from companies that specialize in the manufacturing and deployment of these units.

    Once a vaccine becomes available, there should be a system of priorities for distribution. Medical personnel should be first in line. If the healers aren’t available to heal, the rest of us become more vulnerable. Then those responsible for public safety (police, fire, military) should be next, followed by those maintaining infrastructure. Depending on vaccine availability, all high priority individuals could be included in a “first wave” inoculation. Then the general population could begin to receive vaccinations. (

    But, as of now, the actual progression of the disease through a population may be dependent on many factors. China and South Korea have taken draconian steps to attempt to contain the epidemic. It hasn’t ended there, but they seemed to have slowed the spread which has given them time to address the associated problems. Plus they have younger populations on average which seems to make them less vulnerable. In places like Italy with a much older population on average, they appear to have a much more difficult time managing the epidemic. Plus, in other countries, there is still the issue of MERS which is complicating the situation even more (

    And the flu season isn’t over yet (

    Looking out the window at the lake. Just saw a mink hop along the seawall and a half-dozen swans swimming by. Makes for a great time to stay home.

      1. pgl

        A few months? And I though ilsm had no clue about biopharma research. The smart kids at Gilead Sciences are either insulted or they are laughing their a$$es off at the two of you.

    1. baffling

      “While, as of today, the U.S, has the capacity to test about 26,000 people per day”
      i have my doubts about the veracity of this statement, today. and it certainly has not applied over the past month. and this is a major problem. effective containment comes from identifying who is sick and capable of spreading. we do not have that capability, so we have effectively been driving blind for the past month. i do not consider this to be acceptable whatsoever. furthermore, the administration has lied and denied this to be the case, focusing on the financial losses rather than the public health. that has caused additional problems within the community. bruce, i hope you do understand the us response to this situation has been at the level of incompetent. time was our most valuable resource, and it was squandered as trump wanted to protect his political gains. now we deal with the ramifications. this is the leadership you voted into office, bruce. and it very well may be the leadership that causes your demise. think about that while you watch the minks from your window.

      1. pgl

        Last number I saw was that we have tested less than 12 thousand total. Of course Trump claims we can test 2 million cases per day. So many numbers so many lies.

      2. Bruce Hall

        Just picking up information online on the capacity for testing individuals. In this case it was compiled by the American Enterprise Institute. I’m not sure what the basis of your disagreement is. Perhaps you have a better source.

        1. Baffling

          The other day we had 11,000 tests, TOTAL. and there are first responders and health care folks unable to get tested. So yes, your claim is not credible bruce. Hopefully the capacity grows soon, but it has been woefully inadequate and has contributed to community spread.

          1. Bruce Hall

            Baffling did you even look at the link I provided related to the available number of tests? I’ll presume you have not. I’ll make it simple for you. Here is a photo of the tally:

            Time to set your politics aside and look at data. You can agree or disagree. If you disagree and cite a number such as 11,000 (versus ~27,000) then you should have the courage of your convictions and provide a link to your source.

          2. pgl

            Brucie provided a twitter link that he did not follow at all. Take for example this reply:

            “By the time this capacity is used, we will need another hundred thousand tests , due to exponential growth of virus. Shame on US”.

            That guy is right. BTW – that guy gets that developing the capacity is not the same thing as actually running the test. Bruce thinks these are the same thing/ WHY? Because he is almost as stupid as his master – Trump.

          3. baffling

            bruce, the other day we had 11,000 tests conducted TOTAL. that is not in dispute. even you need to accept that number as fact.
            now lets get to your aei sponsored document. the list provided is capacity of equipment at labs. this does not count the kits necessary to conduct those tests. that is the problem. we have labs, we don’t have nearly enough material to actually conduct the test. this is the difference between “potential” and “actual” tests. you are mistaking potential with what can be done today with material on hand.

            now bruce, let me place your argument in a more dire predicament. if your argument is true, then why have we only conducted 11,000 tests in total when we could conduct 27,000 per day? why are we NOT testing for community spread, and then isolating? don’t you think it is extremely concerning that the government has all this capacity, PER DAY, and yet has used only a fraction of that capacity as the virus spreads throughout the country? so either your numbers are incorrect, bruce, or the response has been woefully inept. which would you like to choose? i would say, both. this is setting politics aside, and looking at the data. I suggest you take your own advice, darling.

        2. pgl

          We have the capacity but we need leadership from the Administration – cough, cough. But something reported by the AEI is supposed to be reliable in your view? Damn – you are dumber than we ever gave you credit for!

    2. pgl

      “it will become less lethal as the weakest among us die off. That’s a fairly bleak assessment, but a possibility.”

      Fairly bleak? I’d call this sentence ghoulish. But it seems to be the UK playbook – let the weak die so the rest of us can have great numbers. Oh wait – your boy Trump is all about numbers that make him look good!

    3. Ulenspiegel

      “While, as of today, the U.S, has the capacity to test about 26,000 people per day and increasing rapidly”

      That is BS. The test numbers are still pathetic in case of the USA, identified cases per day are a joke. Compare your numbers with Austria to get a feeling how you have screwed up. With much more than 50000 undetected infected people you are not longer able to contain the spread, >98% of the real case are UNDETECTED.

    4. Dave

      Bruce. A better estimate of “capacity to test” is to look at how many actual tests administered are being reported. Sure, that data are a day late, but do you doubt that we are actually using our “capacity”?

  7. joseph

    “When you get into the older groups, you’re potentially talking about 5 percent, 10 percent of cases being fatal.”

    This is good news for Steven Kopits since he has said that old people dying aren’t excess deaths. They are merely premature deaths so don’t really count.

    1. Steven Kopits

      Why don’t you find that quote for me.

      Meanwhile, my 81 year old mother lives with us, and I can assure you, a lot of what is going on in our household is an attempt to keep her well. I don’t know if we will succeed, and if we don’t, there’s a pretty good chance it will have been my fault.

      1. pgl

        OK – we all pray for your mom even know that you could care less about the lives of people who live in Puerto Rico.

    2. pgl

      And it reduces the need to pay for Social Security benefits! A win-win for Princeton Stevie boy.

  8. Steven Kopits

    I don’t think it would hurt us to talk about the macroeconomic implications.

    Today, I went to our local Super Cuts for a haircut. A kind Hispanic woman cut my hair, but about halfway through, she received a phone call from a friend who addressed her as ‘Corona’; I could hear her raspy breath–that’s how the related pneumonia has been described to me.

    Was she sick? Don’t know. She claimed asthma, but I’ll tell you her colleague sat in the chair farthest from her. So did I just do a really stupid thing? Maybe. Probably.

    But this is a big problem. For minimum wage people, they can’t afford to be offline for 40 days. So they’re going to go home when they drop and return when they can walk, and they’ll be infecting the community all the way along. This why we need the tests — we should have had them three weeks ago. If a min wage person tests positive, the government should just cut them a check for their normal earnings and make sure they go home and stay home. A couple months of egregious fiscal support won’t kill us the way coronavirus and the related economic fallout could.

    Not really clear what they are doing in Washington.

    1. pgl

      There is a lot of discussion about the macroeconomic implications and the best you could come up with is that your SuperCuts was temporarily interrupted? OK! Even conservative Greg Mankiw has a more insightful and progressive comment. I asked our host to check it out.

    2. pgl

      “This why we need the tests — we should have had them three weeks ago.”

      I almost agree with this with one caveat – COVID-19 first appeared almost 4 months ago. OK the PRC was slow to tell us but our government was very late to do a damn thing to do even the basics.

    3. 2slugbaits

      Steven Kopits I mostly agree with your recommendations, except that I don’t know why economic relief should be limited to those who show symptoms. There’s a fair amount of evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted even if someone is asymptomatic. I think the government should pay all nonessential workers to stay home for a couple of weeks. Exceptions would be healthcare workers, first responders, workers producing medicine and medical equipment, food distributors, etc. There’s no need for people at Super Cuts or movie theaters or Forever 21, stockbrokers, etc. If we can shut down the economy for one day at Xmas, then we can probably shut it down for another dozen or so days in order to slow the spread. Maybe folks could use their two weeks of enforced idleness to catch up on their reading. Maybe crack an econ textbook.

      What ticks me off is the way the Senate decided to hold off until Monday on any vote of the House/Treasury agreement. Why couldn’t they have voted this morning?

      1. Baffling

        If we dont figure out a way to do large scale testing this approach will be slow and painful. Not knowing who is sick or contagious is enormously detrimental to any containment strategy.

        1. dilbert dogbert

          I think containment strategy has been abandoned. Now into “Flatten The Curve Strategy”.

      2. pgl

        Because Mitch McConnell was afraid he might catch coronavirus. Get out of town fast and the heck with the rest of the population.

      3. Steven Kopits

        I didn’t mean to limit it, Slugs only use it as an example. It’s a multifaceted problem that needs analysis on many levels.

        I thought Cuomo’s op-ed in the NYT this morning was quite helpful in this regard.

      4. macroduck

        Assistance should not be limited to those who have lost work due to the virus. It should be extended to those who were already unemployed. The idea that macroeconomic decisions should involve somebody’s notion of who is deserving is widespread in the U.S., but is really bad as policy. Remember Rick Santelli’s rant against mortgage relief and the whole Tea Party crapfest?

  9. Jeffrey J. Brown

    A social media post by a North Texas college professor:

    My doctors are pretty sure I have Coronavirus (COVID-19). Since I’m not a high-risk case (elderly, obese, smoker, underlying disease), the County Health Department would not approve them to essentially waste a test on me due to the severe shortage of test kits. They said the hospital would not be able to test me, either.

    I was quarantined for hours at the doctor today in a contamination room. Staff in full body suits and masks came in and out. I tested negative for flu and have all of the symptoms of Coronavirus (102 fever, cough, shortness of breath, really bad body aches). I’m now on a mandatory home quarantine for 10 days. They will let me know if more kits come in and I am able to be tested. But said it’s not likely.

    I’m telling you this because today I was made aware by several nurses and doctors that there are SO many more cases in every city than are being reported. I probably do have it, yet they aren’t allowed to test me, so it won’t be reported. They are just sending people back home with it and hoping they stay quarantined. At my doctor’s office alone, they are seeing multiple people a day who they strongly believe have it and have only been allowed to issue one test so far (yesterday, on an elderly person), which was positive. Everyone else the Health Dept said not to test.

    I was unfortunately already in NYC (3/6-3/9) when the news broke about how widespread it was becoming, or I wouldn’t have gone. But I was SO diligent about hand washing, not touching, using sanitizer… and I still got it (but didn’t know until after I was back in FW for two days and started showing symptoms). A friend of mine has self quarantined in NYC, but is showing no symptoms yet.

    Just asking you to be careful out there, friends. Take this seriously and do your part to keep it from spreading.

    1. Moses Herzog

      The elderly and young children are who should get the main focus. Or even people not always cognitive of the seriousness of situations. Possibly people who already have pneumonia in their systems right before getting COVID-19. Think of old people now, afraid to go grocery shopping.

      There have been reports of corpses which have just sat because officials were refusing to pick the corpse up because of fear of picking up the virus (this is a very irrational fear in my view if officials take the proper precautions). People apparently think COVID-19 causes people to defecate in incredibly high volumes (why backlog toilet paper??). Part of the reason for the shortage in toilet paper is profiteering on Amazon and other places, taking advantage of irrational fears.

      Here again, I don’t think this disease is as dangerous as it’s being made out as. It is people’s reaction to the disease which is creating the most danger. Most of us have the immune system and “biological strength” to outlast the COVID-19 even if we get it. It is the young, the old, and weaker segments of society that should be getting our focus and attention. Not stupid middle-aged housewives freaking out because they haven’t picked up their 30th bulk sized package of toilet paper rolls.

      1. baffling

        “Here again, I don’t think this disease is as dangerous as it’s being made out as.”
        it is at least as dangerous as it is being made out to be. is it the plague and reducing human population by one half? no, but it is extremely dangerous. in china, for example, you are looking at something around a 1-2% mortality rate. and this has occurred with the chinese creating an unprecedented ramp up of hospital beds to care for the sick. many of those would die if not for this treatment. About 80% have mild symptoms-flu symptoms are considered part of that mild classification, although calling that mild is a bit far fetched. About 20% require more significant care, including hospitalization. As the available number of beds decrease, a larger percentage of this group will die. This is why we are trying to stretch out the infection period, rather than overwhelming the hospitals with a peak. it ultimately reduces the number of fatalities, even if it does not change the number infected.

        “It is the young, the old, and weaker segments of society that should be getting our focus and attention.”
        the young do not appear to be very susceptible. but they very well could be major distributors of the virus. junior may not get sick at all, but he could wreak havoc on his grandparents.

  10. Barkley Rosser

    On acting quickly, the model is Taiwan, where authorities begaan acting in December on the first reports out of Wuhan while the mainland authorities were still arresting people talking about what was happening. Taiwan’s focused actions have been highly successful in limiting the virus despite their close links with PRC.

    On the home front we have actually seen a bit of sanity out of Trump supporting the largely reasonable House bill just passed with lots of GOP votes, with Pelosi and Mnuchin actually managing a fairly reasonable negotiation and Mnuchin getting Trump on board. But then we have Mitch M. holding the Senate in recess until late Monday (do they really want to undo paid sick leave?), and today we have Trump back to threatening to “demote” Powell, somehow unaware that this is likely to roil those moarkets again that were treating him welll late Friday. Does he want to put Judy Shelton in place of Poowell? Oh that would really reassure everybody.

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ Barkley Junior
      Another proud moment for your favorite emblem of fraudulent portrayal of a Democrat and poster girl of dementia. Another “win” for the “strong woman”:

      Take your personal victory lap Barkley, like so many of yours on this blog. Barkley, is this what the Senator for Massachusetts you think is Native American calls “fighting”??

      Well, maybe I’m wrong Barkley, you know what a pack of “sexists” the editorial board of the NYT is, and in your world where you are never wrong, this must be gender related. Until the day it proves you correct and then maybe not.

      1. Barkley Rosser

        So apparently the increase in paid sick leave in this bill is not universal. But it is a better than nothing, and there is more to this bill than just the increase in paid sick leave.

        You are really sick, Moses, seriously sick.

  11. pgl

    White House sent out their economic cheerleaders this morning:

    National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow — who asserted on cable news earlier this month that COVID-19 was “contained” — remains optimistic amid the coronavirus outbreak. When asked by CBS’ Margaret Brennan Sunday morning about supply lines in light of empty shelves in grocery stores and President Trump speaking to grocers later in the day, Kudlow said “yes” regarding whether he could guarantee that people will be able to stay home and feed themselves. “Well, I’m going to say yes, knowing there may be some exceptions to this,” Kudlow said. “I’ve read about some situations where this is a difficulty, but most of our supply lines are working pretty well in the domestic United States.”
    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin isn’t sweating the possibility of an economic recession due to the coro
    navirus outbreak. During an interview on Fox News Sunday morning, host Chris Wallace pressed Mnuchin on financial experts saying that the U.S. and the world are headed into a recession this year. When asked whether they are right, Mnuchin responded that he’d rather focus on matters beside “the technical issue of whether we are going to be in a recession or not.”“What I’d focus is one: what do we need to do right now? Because it is clear we need to get economic relief to the economy,” Mnuchin said. “And two: where are we going to be later this year?” Mnuchin then argued that he expects “a big rebound” later in the year.

    MAGA! As long as Trump’s poll numbers rebounds, all is good!

  12. Ulenspiegel

    “If we don’t figure out a way to do large scale testing”

    The order of magnitude of PCR capacity is given, the number of infected people may vary by six orders of magnitude, therefore, it is important to get testing to high numbers EARLY in the epidemic.

    Even with 30.000 tests per day and an Austrian success rate of 1 hit in 10 tests, you only would get 3000 infected into quarantine per day. With at least 50.000 undetected cases in the USA, which will become more than 150000 within 10 days, that is like a fart in the winter storm. Containment is not longer possible in the USA, for that you are three or four weeks too late.

    Test capacity should be used to avoid too high attrition of docs and nurses, i.e. testing of critical people in hospitals once per day, avoid sending whole departments into quarantine because one memeber had contact with infected persons. Test carer for the elderly….

    PCR is the only method that can identify infected people BEFORE these people become infectious, hence capacity is important. Other methods like ELISA, which are under development for the coronavirus, do not offer this, they require higher virus (protein) concentrations, therefore, have a gap the first days.

  13. Moses Herzog

    @ Menzie
    Menzie you know I take issues with the way the American government (and even regular citizens) have reacted to the COVID-19. The choice of Mike Pence to commandeer, etc…… So I am not playing favorites here (I have an affection for China you might find borderline shocking if you could magically read my soul), But…….. your extension of the bright blue line on that graph I find rather curious and mystifying, and I wanna even dare say humorous on some levels. Do you think if it is clear many USA states do not have enough test kits and are not doing testing on those who are indeed positive and “hunkering down” that that line measuring future China positive tests going straight is , uh, ridiculous???

    I’ve seen some of these “analysts” who get jobs with American banks through their Chinese “mandarin” (too archaic terms?? choose your preferred) relatives giving their nationalist spiel on Bloomberg about how China’s cases are “leveling off”. Menzie I have seen first hand how they “handle” things over there—nevermind the early 2020 cover-up on COVID-19. Color me cynical on that “leveling off” with the bright blue line on the above graph.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Moses Herzog: The graph is Deutsche Bank’s, so in all cases (including the US), you can discount the meaningfulness of the lines as you will. But logistics curves are a mainstay of the epidemiological literature.

      1. Moses Herzog

        I should have stated more clearly it was Deutsche Bank you were quoting. (I apologize if my poor wording created any confusion of misattribution over to your readers), but I almost feel the “extension” of the blue line DB do there deserves more explanation. But I think when you put it up you give some (at least limited) credence to the flattening of that blue line. And I also respect Torsten Slok generally, but…it’s weird how that number extends out and highly problematic for Mr Slok on a credibility basis. You know I have always bowed down to you (ZERO facetiousness there) on empirical data, mathematics etc. It is obvious to anyone reading here regular you are multiple levels above me on your cerebral and computational abilities.

        When I look at the USA red line, I think it is more realistic, and to my naked eye it shows an increase in the rate (an increase in the slope you might say??)—which I think is accurate.

        1. Ulenspiegel

          “but I almost feel the “extension” of the blue line DB do there deserves more explanation.”

          The curve indicates, that within a confined area (shut down worked) the virus run out of targets without immunity. What is your issue?

          The more interesting question is what will happen when China tries to start the economy there again.

          1. Moses Herzog

            @ Ulenspiegel
            With all due respect Sir…… I’m sure Menzie and/or DB will be happy to “revisit” the issue of those numbers in the future. I’ve never known Menzie to be terribly shy about pointing out bad commenter errors before (even though very civilized in tone about it). I’ll just say this, anyone who believes that is actually a straight line in reality (aside from what is documented) is extremely naive. Do you believe there are only 69 COVID-19 cases in Texas tonight?? Or only 10 cases of COVID-19 in the state of Oklahoma tonight?? Who do you think keeps better stats say vs the Chinese government bureaus?? That straight line is only to believed by people such as Barkley Junior, who think that after TWELVE GENERATIONS of Native American admixture, you’d be looking at a “skewed distribution” of Native American ancestry among European blooded people (“whites”) over all of America.

          2. Ulenspiegel

            @Moses Herzog

            If you put a whole region in quarantine, the virus runs out of potential victims. That is a fact. And if they shut down the region for longer time you get a flat line. But that is academic. People have to earn money for food, therefore, a long term lock down is not possible, we will see increased infection rate again.

            In China you had a “detection rate” of infected people that was in the 10% range max., the identified cases are only a small part of the reality.

            I don’t believe that the issue is solved in China, they have to lower the movement restrictions and the spread will start again, the government may not publish ist, but that is a different story.

          3. baffling

            “People have to earn money for food, therefore, a long term lock down is not possible, we will see increased infection rate again.”
            the lockdown has the effect of lowering the curve and spreading it out. herd immunity occurs at somewhere around 60-70% of the population getting infected. it is very probable that will occur. but if it occurs in a three month time period, our hospitals will be overwhelmed and additional deaths will occur. if herd immunity takes 12 months to occur, then our hospital system can probably handle it, and more of the very sick will receive treatment and survive. further, the longer we spread it out, the greater chance of a vaccine or effective therapy comes along and changes the game plan. i don’t think anybody of significance expects us to eliminate this virus-it is spread worldwide-but we can influence its mortality impact. and i make no bones about it, there will be an economic cost. i am willing to take on that cost if it means my children can spend another decade with their grandparents. that loss is incalculable.

            great britain just changed their game plan from accepting herd immunity now, to extending the game. why? because rational people understand that it is incorrect to sacrifice the elderly and vulnerable today so that the rest can get back to “normal” quickly. there was a bit of an uprising amongst rational people in the UK the other day, and finally the idiots in leadership listened. same thing finally happened in the usa. unfortuantely, we are about two weeks to late-we could have flattened that curve much better with a stronger start.

          4. Barkley Rosser


            Oh dear, you are back to making a fool of yourself over this matter of skewed distributions, even though Warren is now out of the race.

            Your argument about TWELVE GENERATIONS might make sense if all the white population arrived in the US 12 generations ago and had been equally mixing in the Native population since. But neither of those is correct at all. A large proportion of the white population is descended from (or is) people who arrived within the last three generations or so, with almost none of those having much intermarriage with Native people and not that much with people descended from those who did. OTOH, there are smaller sub-groups of whites descended from people here a long time and also living near Native populations, as is the case for Elizabeth Warren from Oklahoma, which I believe is #2 after Arizona in Native population (although maybe NM or Mont. are ahead of it, but it was “Indian Territory” right up until it became a state not long after 1900.

            You are just completely silly and out to lunch on this one, not for the first time.

          5. Ulenspiegel

            “if herd immunity takes 12 months to occur, then our hospital system can probably handle it”

            This issue has been discussed ~10 days ago in Germany with the same number of ICU beds per capita by Prof. Drosten in his podcast, he is one leading expert for corona virusses and works at the Charite in Berlin:

            If you infect 70% of the people within ONE year you will crash your system, i.e. you will have to perform triages many many thousands of people. His opinion was, we have to broaden the infection over a period of 2 years.

          6. baffling

            “His opinion was, we have to broaden the infection over a period of 2 years.”
            obviously from a health perspective, this would be a better outcome. i don’t think the world is capable of such a move. i predicate a yearlong stretch with anticipation that some therapeutic (not necessarily a vaccine) will exist by then that allows us to reduce the mortality rate. gilead has prospects. and the chinese just reported a japanese flu treatment has had positive results in china as well. if true, it allows us to work with a less flat curve, since we can treat better those who are infected. i cannot maintain complete negativity to the outcome here, we will find a way forward. we just need some more time.

        2. Willie

          Note that the blue line is ex Hubei. What’s going on in and around Wuhan is not included in the graph. I doubt we know what is really happening there for now.

          As a side comment, I play drums when I’m not working, typing dumb comments on the internet, or doing what I’m supposed to be doing at home. The cymbals I play were nearly all made in Wuhan. (Wuhan is a brand name for a line of cymbals, although those are not the ones I have and like.) Wuhan is an ancient metalworking and gong making area, and I wonder what will happen to those skills when this is all over. There’s going to be fallout that we don’t expect.

          1. baffling

            if you ever read up on the history of wuhan, you may be amazed. it had been considered the chicago of china at one point-the major inland port. quite striking how prosperous and important it once was. it still serves a manufacturing importance, but at one time in the late 1800’s early 1900’s it was significantly more important.

          2. Barkley Rosser


            What I have heard of Wuhan is that it has been the Detroit of China because of having lots of automobile production.

          3. Moses Herzog

            I hate to point out, once again, the blathering idiocy of a Mr. Barkley Junior, but Changchun city would be the proper reference for “the Detroit” of China. Of course, as I can already see the poorly functioning wheels of Barkley’s head turning, it should be noted that this is largely in the historical sense of Changchun city. But no one that is not lost in a time warp in Virginia would think of Detroit as the major place for auto manufacturing in America 2020 either. Detroit is referenced in its mostly historical context.

          4. Moses Herzog


            That’s (I’m 80% sure) Snow brand pijiu in the photo. I have had my “fair share” (or maybe more) of “Snow” brand along with many other brands of Chinese beer. My personal favorite probably being Harbin brand. I have talked to many a red faced cat like the one you see in the photo. Working man “Dan Conner” type. And in “hole in the wall” restaurants as the LA Times reporter so snobbishly terms it. They tend to view you with threatened eyes (or suspicious at least) when they first see an American. But if you sit and share 2-3 beers with them there are very few on planet Earth who will be as forthright or as friendly with you. They tend to have a low view of both Americans and Japanese, with Americans a very close 2nd to Japanese on the uh…. “unpopular” list. But mostly they will like you as an individual if you are willing to extend yourself and give them the respect that any person is deserving of. I dare say I was treated much better overall than Chinese sojourners are treated in America, which gives me a mild feeling of guilt from time to time.

          5. Barkley Rosser


            I shall grant you being partially right on this, but also partially wrong. It is true that historically Cahngchun was the original center of auto production in China and has often been called “the Detroit of China.” But in the eyes of many it has been displaced by Wuhan, which is at least competing with it to be called that. Google an article from Reuters on March 8, “As one of China’s ‘Detroitd’ reopens, world automakers worry about disruptions,” about Wuhan. As it is, Shanghai is tops in auto production at 6.9 million vehicles as of 2017 (with Shanghai much larger and more diversified than these others), Wuhan with Dongfeng is second with 4.1 million vehcicles in 207, and Changchun third with FAW at 3.3 million vehicles in 2017.

            Now you say that Detroit’s title is strictly historical. Wtong. The Detroit metro area is still far ahead of any rivals for auto production and Michigan is far ahead of any other state.

            I was first told that Wuhan is the “Detroit of China” by a native of Wuhan, a good friend and coauthor of mine now living in Beijing. When this virus hit I communicated with him and he told me he and his family still in Wuhan are fine. I suspect his use of the term reflected the competitive attitude in Wuhan over autos that has led Wuhan to move ahead of Changchun in production, the older “Detroit of China.”


            It is true that Wuhan is also sometimes called the “Chicago of China,” although Chongquing is also sometimes called that as well, also in the interior and nearly three times as large as Wuhan by some estimates, certainly much larger. It also happens to be fourth in auto production, with 2.8 million vehicles, not too far behind Changchun, but some distance behind Wuhan and Shanghai.

      2. Moses Herzog

        @ Menzie
        Curious if you have any thoughts here??? Positive or negative:

        The associated Data:

        I found this on Youtube and am “sparing” you the associated Youtube link. My “sense” from you Menzie, is you are neither defending the blue line or castigating it. That you are taking an “it is what it is” stance based possibly on “This is the data we have to deal with, we have no other tangible data”. Maybe you “sorta” agree the blue line is incredibly unrealistic?? My problem with the straight blue line is, it repeats a number propagated by Chinese authorities, which discounts the value of the loss of Chinese people’s lives (people dying hunkered down in their homes, etc). So I have serious moral qualms with that blue line being straight there.

  14. Baffling

    In the depths of the greatest crisis to hit his presidency, and trump is focused on…………pardoning flynn! Seriously, more focused on grifting than the state of the nation?

  15. Jeffrey J. Brown

    Unfortunately, all of this is consistent with the back of the envelope calculations that I did in my post up the thread:

    White House Takes New Line After Dire Report on Death Toll
    Federal guidelines warned against gatherings of more than 10 people as a London report predicted high fatalities in the U.S. without drastic action.

    The White House also recommended that Americans work from home, avoid unnecessary shopping trips and refrain from eating in restaurants. Some states and cities have already imposed stricter measures, including lockdowns and business closings. Asked at a news conference with President Trump about what had led to the change in thinking by a White House task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the task force leaders, said new information had come from a model developed in Britain.

    Referenced Model: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID- 19 mortality and healthcare demand

    Key Chart:

  16. baffling
    just curious about the conservatives and their thought processes. just a week ago, they were all complaining this is “just the flu”. folks were overreacting. it’s a great time to buy into the market. yada yada yada.
    now we have $1 trillion fiscal stimulus, calls for zero fed fund rates, delaying tax payments, raining cash to everybody from helicopters, yada yada yada.
    i am just curious how the conservative mind could have so quickly (in a matter of one week) moved to such large scale government bailouts. these same conservatives howled like crazy when obama tried in a similar manner to get us out of the worst financial crisis since the great depression. and now we throw trillions at a two week social distancing campaign? how does one develop such limber mental gymnastics to take such positions? i am talking to you rick stryker, corev, peak loser, bruce and others. amazing.

    i am on the record saying this is going to be bad, and we need a plan of action. i just want to know how you conservatives can justify your two faced responses.

  17. Moses Herzog

    Now to me, this little giblet here is interesting. I haven’t been digging deep here because I don’t want to become unhealthily obsessed with this topic. But one of the things I have been DYING to know (see what I did there?? No, that was actually unintended) is what is the rate of “middle aged” deaths. OK so if we consider “under 60” as middle aged and assume most off these aren’t say, under age 12 children, I think this is the first number I have seen, that kind of gives a clue here on the age segments that actually die after infection, though the 931 mentioned are not dead, but are in hospital “intensive care”–which might be a half-decent proxy for death (???). Anyone else who has any thoughts on data related to to “in real time” age breakdown on COVID-19 deaths, I would love to hear them, PLEASE:
    “The virus is spreading rapidly in France, Prof Jérôme Salomon, director of the French health authority, has said.
    There are 9,134 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in France, and there have been 264 deaths – an increase of 89 in the last 24 hours. Of those infected, 2,626 are in hospital; 931 of them in intensive care, half of whom are under 60 years old.
    There are still lots of people in the streets with masks and we can understand their worry … but it is completely useless for those in the the streets. Only health workers and their patients need to wear masks. There is not sense in others wearing masks.
    Everyone who has masks for different reasons, if you have a stock of masks that you are not using please given them to health clinics, hospitals or even your local pharmacy who will pass them on to health workers.
    Salomon thanked the Chinese authorities who had given France one million masks.”

    1. Ulenspiegel

      The mortality of infected is age dependent:

      1) Kids have a mortality near 0.

      2) Adults until 50 years around 0.2%

      3) adults 80+ around 15-20% ,the most vulnarable are people with other conditions like diabetes, chemo therapy, hart conditions, lung conditions, autoimmune issues, high BMI.

      Therefore, it is a good idea for old people to avoid to much contact.

      The French data sound horrible because they have only identfied a small percentage of infected people, they see only the severe cases in hospitals.
      It is nonsense to extrapolate the numbers onto the whole population.

      From the podcast of Prof. Christian Drosten (Charite Berlin), IMHO the best you get a the moment:

      Mortality of all infected: ~0.5% (maximum 1%)

      1%-1.5% of all infected need ICU beds

      2% of all infected need hospital beds

      From the available numbers for R0, duration of infectiousness, average time between infection and death one can calculate that in a country without effective large scale testing a dead patient today means also around 1000 unidentified infected persons. (This is confirmed by the UK study and the official numbers of estimates of undetected infected people).

        1. Jeffrey J. Brown

          There was an interesting case history, posted on the Vitamin D Council website,  back during the H1N1 epidemic.  A institution, I think that cared for mentally disabled patients, monitored their patients’ Vitamin D levels, and supplemented in most cases. 

          The medical and support staff were not monitored, and therefore they were probably representative of the population as a whole, i.e., probably 90%+ deficient in Vitamin D levels.  

          The H1N1 virus was introduced, via an incoming patient, and the H1N1 virus spread like wildfire among the medical and support staff, but the transmission rate among the patients was practically zero. 

          Following is a link to an interesting study:

          Vitamin D crucial to activating immune defenses


          Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system – T cells – will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body.

          For T cells to detect and kill foreign pathogens such as clumps of bacteria or viruses, the cells must first be ‘triggered’ into action and ‘transform’ from inactive and harmless immune cells into killer cells that are primed to seek out and destroy all traces of a foreign pathogen. The researchers found that the T cells rely on vitamin D in order to activate and they would remain dormant, ‘naïve’ to the possibility of threat if vitamin D is lacking in the blood.

          1. Moses Herzog

            @Jeffrey Brown
            I greatly appreciate your thoughtful and considerate response.

            I hope there will be more discussion on this–Vitamin D as a “partial” defense or “makeshift” defense against COVID-19. Could this be why young children are better at fighting off COVID-19 (they get more Vitamin D because much higher FORTIFIED with Vitamin D milk intake??? I think there is something there. Although for the time being, I’m glad people are oblivious or “slow to the take” on this, as there will be all the more Vitamin D products for me next time I head to the grocery. Please, mum’s the word Jeffrey (joke). But I very earnestly feel there is something to this, and am glad you seem to agree this wasn’t just one of my odd tangents.

            FYI to Menzie’s readers IF recently cut mushrooms are set out directly in the sunshine for roughly 2 hours (stem side down is better) it will actually INCREASE the amount of already contained Vitamin D nutrients. Hope it helps someone feeding their grandma or elderly they know. God bless.

          2. Jeffrey J. Brown

            An interesting blog post, from a few years ago, that I copied and saved:

            Heart Scan Blog (now inactive):
            Vitamin D and Programmed Aging

            As we age, we lose the capacity to activate vitamin D in the skin.

            A practical way of looking at it is that anyone 40 years old or older has lost the majority of ability for vitamin D activation. 

This often makes me wonder if the loss of vitamin D activating potential is nature’s way to get rid of us. After all, after 40, we’ve pretty much had our opportunity to recreate and make our contribution to the species (at least in a primitive world in which humans evolved): we’ve exhausted our reproductive usefulness to the species.

 Is the programmed decline of vitamin D skin activation a way to ensure that we develop diseases of senescence (aging)? The list of potential consequences of vitamin D deficiency includes: osteoporosis, poor balance and coordination, falls and fractures; cancer of the breast, bladder, colon, prostate, and blood; reductions in HDL, increases in triglycerides; increased inflammation (C-reactive protein, CRP); declining memory and mentation; coronary heart disease.

            Isn’t that also pretty much a list that describes aging?

 A fascinating argument in support of this idea came from study from St Thomas’ Hospital and the London School of Medicine:


            Telomeres are the “tails” of DNA that were formerly thought to be mistakes, just coding for nonsense. But more recent thinking has proposed that telomeres may provide a counting mechanism that shortens with aging and accelerates with stress and illness. This study suggests that both vitamin D and inflammation (CRP) impact telomere length: the lower the vitamin D, the shorter the telomere length, particularly when inflammation is greater.

            Now the big question: If declining vitamin D is nature’s way of ensuring our decline and death, does maintaining higher vitamin D also maintain youthfulness? I don’t have an answer, but it’s a really intriguing idea.

  18. Moses Herzog


    I appreciate the age data breakdown, Thank You for that. I don’t agree with some of your own statements on this, but I will say you have provided some outstanding links on this blog related to COVID-19, so I really applaud you for sharing those here. I finally saw some age data breakdown on NYT today and I may put that up soon in this blog thread or if Menzie does a post before 2am tonight, I will put it in that thread.

    1. Ulenspiegel

      @Moses Herzog

      You are welcome.

      “I don’t agree with some of your own statements on this”

      Which ones?

      1. Moses Herzog

        @ Ulenspiegel
        I thought you had said or at least implied that being admitted to an ICU bed lowered the chance of death. I think this isn’t true—due to the higher chance of infection of a hospital resident (certainly over many days) than a person in an “everyday” environment. I am relating this specifically to COVID-19 in my disagreement on that, but I think it also covers many other (certainly not all) ICU and general hospital admittances. Certainly I think that argument can be made now with the low-vacancy of hospital beds in relation to COVID-19. My argument gets weaker when there are less communicable diseases/viruses in any particular time span. MERS or sepsis type things is the obvious example in relation to hospitals and patients residing therein.

      2. Moses Herzog

        @ Ulenspiegel
        Here is the age data I promised you. It is 3 days old, All I did was copy/paste this from an NYT newsletter:
        “It’s clear that older people and those with health problems are most at risk of dying because of the coronavirus — but that doesn’t mean younger people who catch it won’t become gravely ill. Many already have.
        Adults between 20 and 54 make up almost two-fifths of the people being hospitalized in the U.S. with the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty percent are under 44 — millennials, more or less.
        And nearly half of the most severe cases — the ones who land in intensive care — are younger than 65, the agency found. The figures come from a study of the first 2,500 cases reported in the U.S. (the tally is now over 10,000).
        Even children — especially babies and preschoolers — can sometimes become seriously ill, though they are the least likely to do so; it’s not yet clear why.
        Some young adults have kept socializing as if “lower risk” meant “no risk.” A CBS News video of students on spring break in Florida shrugging off the pandemic raised hackles on social media.”

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