I know I have a couple of Minnesota briefings to get to, and I will eventually. My editorial on the case surge having peaked before the Governor’s orders did get published in the Star Tribune yesterday. Several people pointed out that Worldometers, and other sites, also purport to report an active cases number for Minnesota, which I am aware of. While those numbers don’t match, the trend is the same as my analysis identifies. I am unable to completely figure out how those sites actually calculate active cases. In my formula, I tried to be as consistent with what Minnesota has said about the origin and meaning of various numbers, in particular the no longer isolating one. And again, the state could give us this with some precision–they know exactly which cases started when and on what date those cases are considered no longer infectious under their guidelines. But I think my numbers are close.
And again, while I am very hesitant to make any kind of prediction because there is large uncertainty about this pathogen and its transmission, it is pretty clear to me that the current wave, at least in the upper Midwest, has peaked and will decline sharply now. I believe the shape of these curves is determined by a few factors. One is that this is a very infectious pathogen, somehow it is transmitted very easily in a variety of circumstances. So when conditions are right and it gets going, it really goes. But because it spreads so fast, and thus active cases grow very quickly on the way up, it tends to burn through the available targets pretty quickly as well. The infectious period does not appear to be that long, maybe a week, and that factors in as well. So those people who got infected soon aren’t infectious and the decline is equally precipitous as both the number of infectious persons and the number of targets go down rapidly. The case waves look very similar in most places, sharp up, short duration, sharp down, long endemic tail.
The environmental conditions that really favor spread are interesting too, and it looks like a fairly narrow corridor of meteorological parameters are very conducive to transmission. You can almost watch the case waves moving from latitude to latitude. And I do believe voluntary human behavior can play a role in slowing a wave, people are aware when there is more transmission and probably limit contacts. Government orders produce very incremental change at best.
And nothing seems to make a big difference in spread, that is the lesson people should really learn–masks, lockdowns, stay at homes, the virus doesn’t seem to care. The curves look similar regardless of the difference in tactics, unless you are going to go full totalitarian and lock people in their homes for a very extended period and even then I am not sure you get your desired outcome. And why are we doing that? For a pathogen that causes a relatively limited amount of severe illness and death, especially in the general community population? We are devastating our children in particular, we are seeing increased reports of suicides among children as young as 11 or 8. An 11 year-old supposedly shot himself during a zoom distance learning lesson yesterday. This is crazy, and it is what I object to most in the government response, this complete coronamonomania, with no regard for the welfare of the population as a whole.
And governments, including ours here in Minnesota, have continually lied to us, sensationalized data they want to scare us with, and hiding data that would allow a more rational perspective and that would run counter to the official narrative and messaging. Makes me truly sick.