US Covid-19 Cases And Deaths Surge

Update: the spike in the daily change for US Covid-19 deaths on 6/25 was due to NJ adding “1,854 probable deaths.”  Excluding this data addition shows the downtrend for US fatalities continues. Perhaps the total spike is a false alarm. Unclear for now. New numbers in the days/weeks ahead will provide clarification, for good or ill. (See revised chart at bottom of this post that doesn’t include the NJ-add data.)

Reports of rising coronavirus cases in the US, mostly due to increases in the South and West, have been downplayed by pointing out that the trend in fatalities has continued to fall. But that narrative suddenly vanished after a dramatic spike in new deaths for Thursday, June 25.

In an ominous shift, the US is now reporting sharply higher numbers of Covid-19 cases and fatalities, based on data compiled and reported by Johns Hopkins University. Unfortunately, there’s no ambiguity left for putting a positive spin on the trend and so this looks like a clear turning point for the worse on a national basis.

Let’s start with reported cases. The daily change for US Covid-19 rose sharply yesterday (June 26) to just below +40,000. Maybe it’s noise, but the steep rise in the 10-day average over the past week strongly suggests otherwise. All the more so when we recognize that the 10-day average has decisively and persistently jumped above the 20-day average, which predicts that this recent uptrend has upside momentum.

It’s been tempting to reserve judgment on the upward shift in the trend for cases by pointing to the slow-but-persistent decline in fatalities. But that defense dissolved overnight. New deaths from the coronavirus spiked on June 25 to +2,425 – several times higher than the previous day’s increase (+754), pushing the count to the highest level in nearly two months.

Bottom line: there’s no statistical room left for denial. On a national level, the recent progress on containing the disease and limiting its spread has given way to a worrisome reversal.

A key question: Will the outbreak in the hot-zone states – primarily in the South and West – spill back to the Northeast, which previously suffered as the epicenter for coronavirus cases and deaths in April and May?

The main point of uncertainty for answering the question: How will the nation – on a federal, state and local level – respond to the new outbreak? The stakes are, once again, sky-high. How governments, institutions and individuals react, or don’t, will determine the path ahead. Given the wide array of reactions to date, there’s little confidence for estimating how this plays out. Rather, it’s a day-to-day affair and seemingly minor decisions can have big consequences, for good or ill.

Revised fatalities data for daily change excluding NJ add on 6/25:

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