By Anthony Lee, MD
Faculty, Harvard Medical School
As we make our way through this pandemic, the large number of cases in the United States has caught our attention and prompted much discussion. In Part 7 of this series, we continue to see New York and Massachusetts reliably decline in the number of daily deaths. As we assume that the pandemic in these states is on the mend, we will no longer track the number of daily new cases.
Likewise, Ireland and the UK have not seen increases in daily new cases or deaths over the last 3-5 weeks, so we will no longer follow them. However, as these countries begin easing lockdown measures, this may change.
In Figure 1, the plot for "The Rest of the United States" (US minus NYS or US-NYS) is compared to those of Sweden and Georgia.
On the left of Figure 1, the cumulative number of cases increased at different rates by location. On the right of Figure 1, the number of daily new cases are declining in Georgia and the Rest of the US, while it plateaus in Sweden.
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The relative histories of these locations differ somewhat. Georgia and the Rest of the US started social distancing measures on 3/17. Georgia lifted these measures on 5/1 and the number of daily new cases continued to fall over the subsequent 17 days.
The Rest of the US saw a rise in daily new cases until 5/1, since then that number has fallen. Sweden enacted very light social distancing on 3/29 and watched their number of daily new cases continue to rise until 4/23 when that number fell, and then plateaued.
Figure 2 shows that NYC and NYS peaked in the number of daily deaths (and new cases) at around 4/9-10 - 22-23 days after social distancing began. For Massachusetts, the peak number of daily deaths (and new cases) peaked on 4/24 - 37 days after social distancing, or 14-15 days after NYS. In Georgia, daily deaths peaked on 4/27 - 20 days after their peak of daily new cases, and 40 days after social distancing.
For the Rest of the United States, the maximum number of daily deaths (and new cases) occurred on 4/29 - 42 days after the start of social distancing.
For Sweden, the maximum number of daily deaths (and new cases) occurred on 4/23 - 25 days after the start of their light social distancing measures. But since then these numbers have plateaued.
Overall, Georgia's daily new cases and deaths have continued to fall after lifting lockdowns 17 days ago. However, it is too early to tell what will happen over the next few weeks. The populations of Sweden and Georgia are of similar size, but Sweden has nearly 3 times the land mass compared to Georgia (450,295 vs. 154,077 square kilometers).
Sources of data: Worldometer.com, Spectrum News NY1, New York State Department of Health, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Georgia Department of Public Health