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What a stunning and thoroughly depressing point the U.S. fight against the CCP Virus may be at. Governments at all levels, private businesses, and non-profit institutions of all kinds are imposing all sorts of vaccination mandates on employees that could result in significant layoffs for the recalcitrant (including those with natural virus immunity) and equally important damage to the economy. And at the same time, the most reliable data now show that the virus’ destructive impact – recently renewed by the highly infectious Delta variant – is easing once again, and for reasons that look completely unrelated to vaccination rates.
Not that the most reliable CCP Virus data are incredibly reliable. As I’ve previously written, there are some awfully dubious definitions of “Covid-related deaths” being used across the country, and major holes in the coverage achieved by the official record keepers. In addition, serious problems have been revealed even in the hospitalization numbers – which I’d considered the most accurate gauge of the virus’ effects on human health.
All the same, the proverbial statistical curve for both indicators is now bending down for the first time since Delta began dominating the American virus scene in mid-summer.
As often the case, my source for the death and hospitalization figures are the Washington Post‘s very user-friendly CCP Virus databases. For this post, I’m also using some hospitalization figures for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website. Unless otherwise mentioned, the specific numbers here are changes in seven-day averages (7DA), which smooth out random fluctuations that tend to occur on a day-to-day basis.
Regarding mortality, the 7DA for daily reported covid-related deaths bottomed out on July 6 at 209 and it had plummeted by nearly 30 percent during the previous week. And through July 27, the 7DA stayed below 300. But by August 16, it hit 651 and thereafter began soaring rapidly.
By the 18th, the 7DA average had jumped by nearly 32 percent week-on-week, and the rate of increase continued surging until it peaked on the 24th at an appalling 77.90 percent. But thereafter, these increases dropped dramaticaly. A week later, they were down to just over 21 percent. That is, consistent with the “bend the curve” criteria, the problem kept worsening, but it was worsening much more slowly, which counts as welcome progress.
This encouraging development continued through September 9, by which time the 7DA was rising on a weekly basis by just 3.17 percent. In other words, it nearly stopped rising altogether. But this fall-off proved to be a head fake. Almost immediately, the weekly increases in the 7DA for covid-related mortality bounced back, and reached a discouraging 27.49 percent in less than a week (by the 15th).
Yet another decline has followed, and this one has been considerably deeper. By September 21, the weekly 7DA increase was back below ten percent, and just four days later, hit zero for the first time since the second half of July.
Since then, and through yesterday, the 7DA has not only been decreasing on a weekly basis. It’s been decreasing faster and faster. Yesterday, the decline stood at 6.74 percent.
The hospitalization story has been somewhat different, and brighter, especially since early September. The 7DA for daily new hospital admissions for CCP Virus-related reasons bottomed out on June 25 at 1,824 and at that point, it was down on week by just under 5.20 percent.
By August 9, the situation had turned around completely – and then some. The 7DA had soared by 34 percent. Afterwards, however, came a consistent decline. By the 20th, the weekly rate of increase in the 7DA had fallen to ten percent, and by September 1, the increases had stopped. The weekly 7DA registered its first weekly decline on September 6 (down two percent), and its first double-digit decrease on the 21st (ten percent).
Since then through the 30th, it’s fallen by ten percent or more twice, and the weekly decrease in the 7DA hasn’t dipped below seven percent.
Given the mushrooming of vaccine mandates and widespread claims – including by President Biden – that the nation is now facing a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” you’d think that the above improvements stemmed overwhelmingly from increased vaccination rates. But the data – in this case, from the OurWorldinData.org website, provide no support for this conclusion.
Specifically, on August 24, when the 7DA of daily covid-related deaths was skyrocketing at that awful 77.90 percent weekly rate, 51 percent of Americans were fully vaccinated against the CCP Virus, and 9.1 percent were partly vaccinated. By yesterday, these figures were only 55 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.
On August 9, when the 7DA for covid-related hospitalizations was growing by 34 percent week-on-week, half of Americans were fully vaccinated and 8.5 percent were partly vaccinated. Through yesterday, those numbers hadn’t changed dramatically, either.
Could mask-wearing be responsible? Trouble is, I haven’t seen any figures on how this practice has changed in recent months. (If you have, let me know.) As far as I’m concerned, the real reasons for this good CCP Virus news have to do with rising levels of natural immunity (especially important given Delta’s virulence), the distinct possibility that the CCP Virus is one of those pathogens whose lethality wanes as it mutates (an important Delta consideration, too), and the nation’s better treatment record – due to a combination of more experienced doctors and new therapeutics.
In early 1815, then-General Andrew Jackson led American forces to a great victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans. But due to that era’s painfully slow communications, the triumph came about two weeks after the United States and Great Britain signed the treaty ending the War of 1812. It makes me wonder how long the U.S. public and private sectors — which don’t have the communications excuse — will keep threatening the economy’s recovery with redoubled anti-virus measures just as the pandemic tide appears to be turning.