Rhode Island has had lockdowns, pauses, business closures, and stern lectures from our queen, and yet…
Arizona currently has the highest per-capita rate of new Covid-19 infections, with 785 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. That rate not only leads the U.S., but is the highest in the world, according to NBC News data. For comparison, the Czech Republic, the country with the highest per-capita rate of infection, has reported 653 cases per 100,000 over the past seven days.
Rhode Island and California also have higher per-capita rates of infection than any other country. Over the past seven days, Rhode Island reported 671 new cases per 100,000, and California had 658 per 100,000.
With this scary news, it’s worth revisiting a concept about which we’ve heard absolutely nothing in the Rhode Island media: active cases. The government and journalists reliably report the number of Rhode Islanders who’ve tested positive, the number in the hospital, the number in intensive care, and the number who have died. (Whether those numbers really show what they are implied to show is another story, but the data is released on a schedule.) What nobody ever discusses is the number of people who have the disease right now.
Keep in mind, of course, that many of the so-called “cases” (that is, people who test positive) never have any symptoms or have very mild symptoms and probably only seek tests because of their line of work or because somebody they know tested positive. But if we assume that the average start-to-finish COVID illness is two weeks, the trend in Rhode Island looks like this:
Although it’s possible we’re seeing the effects of holiday parties in the increase of the past couple weeks, Rhode Island experienced a sharp decrease during most of December, which raises the intriguing question of whether Rhode Island is approaching herd immunity.
Note also that the December peak was more than three times larger than the April peak. Our current experience suggests that we were dramatically overreacting in spring. Furthermore, the failure to contain the spread since October brings into question Governor Raimondo’s entire lock-down-and-restrict strategy. The state is putting people out of work and letting its children fall behind perhaps for no good reason at all.