Over the last two weeks (ending 2/27), all COVID metrics continued to fall at rates almost none of the experts expected. But you would not know it from listening to the media and their cast of “expert” doomsayers.
COVID hospitalizations, ICU bed usage and patients on ventilators fell by nearly 30% over the last two weeks. Yesterday, total hospitalizations fell below 50,000 for the first time since early November.
The rate of the decline is holding steady at about 2.5% per day.
The IHME model is having a hard time keeping up. Its most recent run (February 25) now projects that hospitalizations will decline over the next three months at the current rate, reaching about 7,000 by the end of May. Its previous run projected 22,000 hospitalizations by the end of May.
Over the last two weeks, daily reported fatalities fell by a third, from 2,984 to 1,968. There were some reporting disruptions from the ice storm in the first week but it appears the reporting agencies caught most of that up last week. Those disruptions are reflected in the little kink you see in the curve at the end. Of course, several doomsayer experts opined that the uptick was a sign that fatalities might be starting to rise again, speculation which was quickly proved to be total nonsense, as the decline resumed when the reporting stabilized.
IHME has dropped its total projected fatalities to under 600,000, with daily fatalities dropping to about 200 by the end of May. It has been somewhat humorous to see how the media went from breathless reporting at every change in the IHME model projections as they were increasing, to almost never mentioning them since their projections turned so positive.
The national vaccination campaign stumbled during the winter storm but came roaring back this week. The CDC reported 2.35 million doses administered yesterday, a new record. Just under 10% of the US over-18 population is now fully vaccinated.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved on Saturday and will begin shipping this week. As I have mentioned before, this one-dose vaccine is going to be real game changer. I know that some of you are stilling struggling to get the vaccine but within a matter of weeks we could easily have a glut of vaccines available.
Testing was also disrupted by the winter storm then had a few days of playing catch-up, which again caused the doomsayer experts to warn about “troubling increase in new cases.” Hardly any mentioned that the positivity rate dropped over the same period from 6.6% to 4.7%. The seven-day moving average for the COVID Tracking Project’s daily “new case” metric has dropped from 94,000 to 67,000 over the last two weeks.
There is a growing consensus among researchers that the U.S has reached herd immunity threshold, at least based on our current behavior. Almost none of those voices are given any time in the media. Instead, mostly “experts,” who have become infatuated with being on television and who are willing to make the most dire predictions, are selected by a media that traffics in sensationalism.
There are, however, two caveats about which objective experts warn. The first is that our behavior does affect the rate at which the virus spreads. As life returns to normal, it will create the circumstances that make it easier for the virus to spread. The second is the effect of the variants. We need to keep a wary eye on both of these, but it appears that the cumulative effect of a large percentage of the population that has recovered from an infection and the rapid rate of vaccinations is overwhelming both, at least for now.