The Corner

Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update: 1 Million Tests Administered in U.S.

A worker checks part of a delivery of 64 hospital beds from Hillrom to The Mount Sinai Hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City, March 31, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

One million COVID-19 tests have now been administered in the U.S., with the pace of 100,000+ tests a day continuing. Widespread testing will give us a better understanding of the lethality of the virus. While the cumulative fatality rate currently stands around 1.8 percent in the U.S., that number may overstate the actual fatality of coronavirus by undercounting the number of cases. The more tests that are administered, the more accurate that number will become. Moreover, widespread testing will be necessary to enact targeted quarantines and roll back shutdowns.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: covidtracking.com

While the situation remains dire in New York, the chart below shows that the growth rate of new cases is flattening. New Jersey and Louisiana, which I’ve identified in previous posts as being on dangerous trajectories, have similarly started the stem the spread of coronavirus. The takeaway is that social distancing is an effective strategy while policymakers plan for the next phases of the pandemic. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, along with his colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote an insightful primer on the road to reopening the American economy.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: covidtracking.com

The table below shows the compounded daily growth rate over the past five days and the change in that growth rate from five days prior. The hardest-hit states are all seeing declines in the growth rate of new cases. Washington has more or less contained coronavirus, so its slight increase in growth is mostly a blip. California, on the other hand, continues to lag in per-capita testing, which may account for its increased growth in recent days.

Table: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: covidtracking.com

California’s lack of testing is reflected in the table below. Governor Gavin Newsom has resorted to stringent social-distancing measures, but a long-term strategy will require widespread testing.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: covidtracking.com, U.S. Census Bureau