COVID-19 Crisis Update #2

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March 13, 2020 12:09 p.m.

*** A few moments ago the Director General of the WHO said that “Europe has now become the epicenter of the #COVID19 pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China. More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in at the height of its epidemic.” In one sense we know this. New infections in China have dropped to a very low level. But he seems also to be saying that velocity of the epidemic is now greater in Europe than it was at the height of the crisis in China.

*** There has been a lot of attention to a statement yesterday from Ohio’s Department of Public Health Diretor Amy Acton who said that: “We know that 1% of the state’s population is carrying this virus today. That’s over 100,000 people.” I have seen this claim discussed by a substantial number of epidemiologists, public health officials and data modelers. Each expressed real skepticism about this estimate and indeed what the basis for the estimate was. As of yesterday, Ohio appeared to have run 87 tests and found 5 infections while 52 test results were pending. To be clear, I am not saying this number is false. I will also say that public health officials expect a substantial percentage of the country to become infected with the virus eventually. So this is not a ‘calm down’ message. It is simply that many experts seem skeptical that that number is accurate today and question what evidence the estimate is based on.

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