Archive for April 13th, 2021

How will we know when we’re near-normal again?

April 13, 2021

Stay focused on the number of Daily New Deaths!


Now that the country is getting vaccinated at a rapid clip, everybody is asking the same question: When can we resume “normal” life again?

The verbiage from the political-scientists and pundits ranges from ‘pretty soon’ to ‘probably never’.

Thanks guys.

Is herd immunity within reach or asymptotically impossible because of ”vaccine hesitancy”?

How many covid survivors now have “natural immunity”?

How long does natural or vaccine immunity last? Weeks? Month? Years?

Case counts spike then drop like a rock … with “scientific” explanations mimicking financial analysts’ head-scratching rationales for why the market went up (or down) each day.

My advice from the get-go has been — in the words of Nate Silver — to ignore the noise and focus on the signal … the covid-related death count.

Back in Jan.-Feb. 2020, Dr. Fauci was saying:

This not a major threat for the people of the United States, and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.

I bought in to Fauci’s read of the situation, but said that I’d start worrying when daily covid deaths surpassed those of a a bad flu year.

The were about 80,000 flu-related fatalities in worst recent flu year.  Source

Spread across the entire year, that works out to about 250 deaths per day; spread across the usual 4 month flu season, that’s about 750 deaths per day.

Of course, we blew past those numbers … and stayed at sky-high levels for most of the past year.

Now, we’re coming back down … with enough people vaccinated or naturally immune that the trend and levels are likely to stick.

So, my advice: Take case counts with a grain of salt, be encouraged by vaccination rates and stay focused on the averaged number of daily new deaths (DNDs).

Based on the flu benchmark, when the weekly average of DNDs drops below 750, we’re probably near-normal … when it drops below 250, then giddyup … we’re there!


For more detail. see:  MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

April 13, 2021

Stay focused on the number of Daily New Deaths!
This is a relevant excerpt from a long ago prior post (May 2020)

Why have I centered on Daily New Deaths (DND)  as my key metric?

First,  saving lives is our paramount objective, right?  If yes, it should be our focus metric.

Second, I think that most other metrics that are being bandied about are quite problematic.

Counting deaths — while a bit macabre — is a more reliable process than counting, say, the number of infected people.

Sure, I’d like to know the number of people infected with COVID-19.

But, unless everybody — or at least a large statistical sample — is tested, the number of confirmed cases is subject to lots of statistical issues.

Most notably, who is being tested and who isn’t? What about the asymptomatic “hidden carriers”? What are the criteria for confirming a COVID infection? What about false positives (and false negatives)? How to standardize the reporting processes across states? How to keep governmental units from fudging the numbers?

Importantly, if testing increases, then confirmed cases goes up.

Is that an indication of more virus spread or just a reflection of more testing?

I sure can’t tell.


Again, counting fatalities is probably the most reliable metric.

Fatalities are discrete events – so they’re countable.

Still, even deaths may have some counting imperfections.

For example, many non-hospitalized people die and are buried without autopsies.  Some may be uncounted COVID victims.

On the other hand, some people may die and be diagnosed with COVID infections. That doesn’t necessarily mean that COVID killed them.  That’s especially true with COVID since it’s  most deadly for people with other health problems.

And, as we stated above, the definition of COVID deaths has changed:

COVID-related” means “COVID present”, not necessarily “COVID caused” … and that, along the way, “present” was redefined from “confirmed” to “presumed”

Further, COVID deaths are a function of two drivers: the incidence of the virus … and, the nature, level and timing of therapeutic healthcare.

Said differently, more effective therapeutic healthcare will dampen the death toll.


Bottom line:  “Daily New Deaths” is the number we should be watching.

If it shows a consistent downward trend, then we’ll know we’ve turned the corner.

If it stays stable (at a high level) or turns upward, we’ll know that we’re in deep yogurt.

April 13: COVID Dashboard

April 13, 2021




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