Snapshot of the Crisis in and Out of New York

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 01: A man passes by a Times Square subway station 42nd street as New York City attempts to slow down the spread of coronavirus through social distancing on April 1, 2020. New York has been hit ha... NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 01: A man passes by a Times Square subway station 42nd street as New York City attempts to slow down the spread of coronavirus through social distancing on April 1, 2020. New York has been hit hard by the restrictions in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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April 2, 2020 10:27 a.m.

The national COVID-19 crisis is still dominated by events inside the state of New York. Until a couple days ago roughly comparable numbers of Americans were dying in New York each day as every other state in the country combined. Because of this, one way I find helpful to make sense of the situation is to look at New York state and compare it not to the national numbers but the numbers from the rest of the country outside New York state. This helps understand the dynamics in other parts of the country separate from the situation in New York and see how they compare.

Here are three graphs that give us that snapshot of the situation unfolding in the country.

A few observations.

First, you can see that the number of new cases has leveled off in New York. But that is likely constrained to a significant degree by testing. As you can see in the graph at the bottom New York state is getting roughly half its tests back positive. That must be because of the clearly stated policy of restricting testing to people who are clearly sick, and even very sick, and largely in hospitals. But also note that this ‘hit rate’ is beginning to creep up in the country outside New York. That is likely driven by more states moving toward the all-crisis, purely diagnostic mode of testing and thus getting higher rates.

On the critical measure of Americans succumbing to the disease every day the numbers in the rest of the country have begun to move ahead of New York. But note that the upward trend is similar in each case.

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