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.
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.
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.
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.