We Really Don’t Realize How Badly We’re Doing

While we don’t really have the sentinel surveillance in place to get really good estimates on the prevalence of COVID-19 infections (the number of currently infected people), we can use some proxies. One proxy is the two-week prevalence of COVID-19 cases (the number of new cases in a two-week period divided by the population of the area you’re interested in), provided there is adequate testing. This is also a statistic the European CDC uses, and, in the U.S., when I’m able to find data such as surveys of non-COVID-19 patients in hospitals, seems to match up reasonably well. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, don’t quibble over the point estimates since these are proxies, but they should give you an idea of where we are.

We can start to feel we’ve turned the corner at a prevalence of 0.05%, and we can start to do some risky stuff at 0.01%.

So how is the U.S. doing? Well, let’s look at prevalence from June 30 to July 13 (COVID-19 data are from here*; population numbers are from here, except for a couple of the territories):


Row Labels 20200630 20200713 14 day prev. 2020 pop % prevalence
AK 940 1539 599 734,002 0.0816%
AL 38045 55545 17500 4908620 0.3565%
AR 20777 28939 8162 7378490 0.1106%
AZ 79215 123824 44609 3039000 1.4679%
CA 222917 329162 106245 39937500 0.2660%
CO 32511 36913 4402 5845530 0.0753%
CT 46514 47510 996 3563080 0.0280%
DC 10327 10906 579 720687 0.0803%
DE 11474 12879 1405 982895 0.1429%
FL 152434 282435 130001 21993000 0.5911%
GA 81291 120569 39278 10736100 0.3658%
GU 259 312 53 168,775 0.0314%
HI 900 1220 320 1412690 0.0227%
IA 29007 35529 6522 3179850 0.2051%
ID 5752 10902 5150 1826160 0.2820%
IL 144238 155931 11693 12659700 0.0924%
IN 45594 52037 6443 6745350 0.0955%
KS 14443 20058 5615 2910360 0.1929%
KY 15624 19653 4029 4499690 0.0895%
LA 58095 79827 21732 4645180 0.4678%
MA 108882 111827 2945 6976600 0.0422%
MD 67559 73527 5968 6083120 0.0981%
ME 3253 3558 305 1345790 0.0227%
MI 70728 77198 6470 10045000 0.0644%
MN 36303 42772 6469 5700670 0.1135%
MO 21551 27890 6339 6169270 0.1028%
MP 30 33 3 57,569 0.0052%
MS 27247 36680 9433 2989260 0.3156%
MT 967 1843 876 1086760 0.0806%
NC 64670 87528 22858 10611900 0.2154%
ND 3576 4442 866 761723 0.1137%
NE 19042 21172 2130 1952570 0.1091%
NH 5760 6054 294 1371250 0.0214%
NJ 171667 175522 3855 8936570 0.0431%
NM 11982 15028 3046 2096640 0.1453%
NV 18456 28515 10059 3139660 0.3204%
NY 393454 402263 8809 19440500 0.0453%
OH 51789 66853 15064 11747700 0.1282%
OK 13757 20745 6988 3954820 0.1767%
OR 8656 12438 3782 4301090 0.0879%
PA 86606 95742 9136 12820900 0.0713%
PR 7465 10010 2545 3032160 0.0839%
RI 16911 17487 576 1056160 0.0545%
SC 36399 58168 21769 5210100 0.4178%
SD 6764 7524 760 903027 0.0842%
TN 43509 65274 21765 6897580 0.3155%
TX 159986 264313 104327 29472300 0.3540%
UT 22217 30030 7813 3282120 0.2380%
VA 62787 71642 8855 8626210 0.1027%
VI 84 206 122 104,425 0.1168%
VT 1208 1301 93 628061 0.0148%
WA 32253 40656 8403 7797100 0.1078%
WI 31662 40382 8720 5851750 0.1490%
WV 2905 4259 1354 1778070 0.0761%
WY 1487 1862 375 567025 0.0661%
Grand Total 2621929 3350434 728505 334,682,109 0.2177%

Keep in mind, some states are probably considerably higher than this, if their testing capacity is overwhelmed (this site gives a good roundup of testing capacity).

Very few states cross the 0.05% threshold, with only 43.9 million Americans living in those states or territories (thirteen percent). Only two territories, American Samoa, which has no cases, and the Northern Marianas Islands are below the 0.01% level (I’m guessing many Americans don’t even know the Northern Marianas Islands are part of the U.S.–or that they even exist). To put this in perspective, Hong Kong is losing its shit (that’s a highly technical phrase) after their two-week prevalence surged to… 0.003%.

We Americans really need to understand how poorly we’re doing at this. And it didn’t need to be like this. Anger is the appropriate emotion.

*This site sometimes has a small lag, but it’s easy to download, so I used it.

This entry was posted in COVID-19, Fucking Morons. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to We Really Don’t Realize How Badly We’re Doing

  1. Mike L says:

    I’m curious as to the reasons for 0.05%/0.01% levels? Are they empirically based? Is there a published paper that supports these numbers? As a science teacher who is in a district where prevalence is 0.16% I need as much scientifically supported info as I can get.

  2. John Kane says:

    I am not from the US but I knew there were the Northern Marianas Islands. No idea they were part of the US.

  3. kaleberg says:

    That’s a pretty useful metric. We’re doing horribly.

  4. Pingback: Link love | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured)

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