Flattening 50 Covid-19 Curves

We’d all like to be playing ball together but each state is playing its own game.  With vaccine protection 12 to 24 months off, the US state-by-state playbook rings pretty hollow.  It has fragmented the nation, exposing cracks and weaknesses for the virus to get in, and we’ve lost some of our best players.

Public health officials cheered us to to collectively “Flatten the curve”.  But while flat growth is definitely better than exponential it won’t be a beautiful thing until we have 0 new daily deaths.  Now we rally around “Wear a mask”.  It spells out our health behavior defense.  There is hope for a win. 

But the US must win 50 games – not easy if some play without masks.  Today’s “curves” show the pandemic at mid-game.  It can take at will, but no longer lashing out at exponential growth.  Hospitals know what to expect, yet many elderly residents, students and factory workers are vulnerable targets.

Look at the Michigan and California games as examples. By end of June each “flattened the curve”.  But congratulations can only go to Michigan where daily deaths are close to 0 – a win by most definitions.  California’s game has a steady drip, drip, drip – the eerie sound of 67 resident deaths daily.  It is trying to come from behind through strict new public health policies designed to stanch the losses.

Covid-19 Deaths March-June 2010 and Running 2-Week Averages — Michigan and California

There is no coordinated game plan.  All 50 states are seeking to “flatten the curve” their own ways.  It is a description; not a prescription.  Leaders advocating that Americans  “wear a mask” is a prescription.  That is how to easily lower deaths.

And, as a whole, the country is losing its tolerance.  There has been too much bad play.  It is no longer front-page news.  Foxnews.com moved covid-19 to a special section with no graphs.  Perhaps because it is hard to see where states are winning and losing. 

Our fatigue is from covid-19 deaths.  They are unimaginable and demotivating.  Our team is losing, and we don’t want to know the score.  But while Americans may not care if the curve is flattened, if they are asked to wear a mask they will.  And, when we get to 0 daily deaths across all 50 states they will cheer because we will have won the game.

A chart that accumulates total deaths day after day best illustrates where we stand against “flattening the curve”.  The examples show some leading and lagging states in the fight against covid. 

  • Leading (few new deaths): Michigan, Louisiana, and Connecticut
  • Lagging (significant new deaths daily): California 67, Florida 38, Georgia 30, and Texas 27.

Cumulative Covid-19 Deaths March-June 2010 – 7 Selected States

In too many states the drip, drip, drip continues.  The US is trailing covid-19 and playing catch up.  Distancing and face mask remedies are now setting some state economies in motion again to win back ground lost to covid.  Eventually lower new daily deaths will be 0. 

Colleagues, families, and neighbors are playing ball, and wearing masks.  And, our leaders should, too.  If not, covid-19 will flatten the 50 United States of America – one state at a time.

Shining a Light on Data