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Covid Weather Report for Minnesota: 21 July 2020
In Minnesota, covid is climbing steadily back toward a new peak. Unless something about Minnesotan behavior changes within the next week or two, we are likely to surpass our April/May first peak in about a month.
However, for now, we aren't there yet. Continue enjoying your summer safely. Squeeze in an outdoor cookout with 10 or fewer of your more responsible friends, go eat on the patio of that restaurant you love, continue not going to bars, and mentally prepare for the reality that life will likely become more restricted again as fall arrives.
A mask mandate is probably coming from Gov. Walz, and that’s probably good.
As for the past several weeks, case counts continue to trend upward, but remain well below April/May peaks. This data lags by (in this case) six days.
"LTC" is short for "long-term care" (basically, nursing homes). These are non-LTC cases. As I state every week, my daily estimate of “actual new cases” is derived by taking the current 7-day average positivity rate, dividing it by 2% to yield a multiplication factor (minimum 1.0), and multiplying the officially reported non-LTC cases by that factor. This is crude enough that, when positivity is significantly above 2%, the precise numbers may be way off… but accurate enough for us to trust the trendline.
Here's some good news, though: my estimates show that the epidemic has gone to a very low ebb in long-term care homes. It was killing grannies left and right just a few months ago, but now we're seeing very few cases, even with expanded testing:
Here is the raw data I use to build these estimates:
This positivity chart is also okay news. While our test positivity rates are getting higher (indicating that we are missing more cases), it appears that we are still detecting most cases of covid. I worried we would quickly lose control of disease surveillance when the second wave came. We may still, but we are holding on for now.
Back to bad news: hospitalizations are going up. This data is current as of yesterday at 4 PM:
It seems the laws of epidemic arithmetic are still holding, despite my hopes: more cases in the past few weeks has led to more hospitalizations today. More hospitalizations today means more deaths in a few weeks. Perhaps the deaths will be fewer, because more young people are getting it, but deaths are unlikely to stay in decline.
For now, though, deaths are indeed down, and we can continue to celebrate that... even as we see what looks like the beginnings of a trend in the other direction:
IN CLOSING, SOME OTHER NUMBERS:
Average week-over-week growth in estimated cases, July 2-8th: 31%
Average week-over-week growth in estimated cases, July 9-15th: 32%
Very rough estimate of pre-symptomatic/early-symptomatic Minnesotans outside LTCs, as of July 15th: 8,000
Where that number was on May 15th, at first peak: 23,500
Very roughly where I expect that number to be as of today, once we have all this week's data in: 10,500.
Very roughly where I expect that number to be in a week: 14,000
Very roughly where I expect that number to be in two weeks: 18,000
Very roughly where I expect that number to be in three weeks: 23,500
Date I expect Minnesota's second peak to surpass its first peak: August 19th.
Please note that predictions I have made about this pandemic have had some hits and some very notable misses. The pandemic may surprise us by slowing down again, just like it did in May, and I hope it does.
All data is either directly from here or derived from data from here: Minnesota Department of Health: Situation Update for Covid-19 . I went into a little more detail on some of these data in my post Covid Isn’t Killing Minnesotans Like It “Should” a few weeks ago.
Reminder: I break these out between long-term care (LTC) and non-LTC residents where possible. Furthermore, I focus on non-LTC because most of the people reading this are not LTC residents, and most of my advice is not applicable to them.
UPDATE 13 August 2020: This post originally posted the week-over-week growth rates incorrectly. Instead of 32%, 31%, etc., the post said case growth was 132%, 131%, etc.. This incorrectly implied that cases were more than doubling every week! Cases in the last week of June were indeed 132% the size of the cases the week before, on average... but that means they only actually grew by 32%. Sorry. Dumb error.