Coronavirus: Out of Many, One

What the US Federal Government and the States Should Do to Fight the Coronavirus

1. The Current Situation in US States

In the previous graph I showed countries with 50 cases or more. Now I’m showing countries with 1000 cases or more. There’s 181 countries with coronavirus cases, or over 90% of the total.
I use absolute numbers (total cases) instead of relative numbers (cases per capita) because here we’re trying to assess whether there’s an outbreak or not. Absolute numbers show if there’s a cluster and how big it is. Per capita doesn’t show this. Eg, if Liechtenstein had 5 cases, it would look like a national emergency in relative numbers, but it’s nothing. When assessing outbreaks, absolute numbers are more relevant. When assessing how bad the situation was a posteriori, relative numbers will be more relevant. The other reason is that relative numbers are much harder to process.

33 US States have more cases than Hubei when it shut down

If you’re looking for testing sites close to where you live in the US, here’s a good resource

2. The Bipartisan Case against the Coronavirus

Source: Civiqs, via the New York Times
Link to article
Chart updated as of 3/29/2020

Infected Republicans are 30% more likely to die from the coronavirus than Democrats because of their age

This graph shows how flu epidemics impact 600 US cities based on their size. Bigger cities are more to the right and have bigger circles, so the small bubbles on the left show smaller cities. The vertical axis represents how concentrated the flu season is in particular weeks. We can see that big cities concentrate at the bottom right, which means their epidemics are spread over many weeks. Conversely, the smaller cities are, the more they tend to be at the top left, meaning their epidemics are concentrated in fewer weeks. This is believed to be caused partially by the fact that there is always some transmission, and hence ongoing herd immunity, in urban areas. This won’t be the case with the coronavirus, since there’s no herd immunity yet, but what this does illustrate is that smaller cities don’t get spared because they’re small. They do get hit, and when they do, the epidemic also hits hard.

3. Coronomics

Link to source
This is one of the more complex graphs in this entire article, so let’s explain it a bit. Red dots are cities that had weaker social distancing measures than the average city. Green dots are cities that had stronger social distancing measures than the average. The line shows the trend: more mortality meant less employment after the pandemic. The grey area shows the confidence interval: the true trend is likely to be within that area, meaning that it’s extremely likely that it was a downward trend. Because the virus hit the East Coast first, cities in the West had time to learn from cities in the East and take stronger, faster measures. That, however, generates a bias. There are more biases, such as that wealthier cities could manage the healthcare crisis better, but might be hit worse by the virus, or cities with more density could be hit more. So researchers controlled for factors such as density, wealth, population… Their controls were the 1910 agriculture employment share, 1910 manufacturing employment share, 1910 urban population share, 1910 income per capita, and log 1910 population.

“Our findings suggest that pandemics can have substantial economic costs, and NPIs can have economic merits, beyond lowering mortality”

“Cities that intervened earlier and more aggressively experience a relative increase in real economic activity after the pandemic”

“More severely affected areas experience a relative decline in manufacturing employment, manufacturing output, bank assets, and consumer durables.”

“The declines in all outcomes are persistent, and more affected areas remain depressed relative to less exposed areas from 1919 through 1923.”

“Reacting 10 days earlier to the arrival of the pandemic in a given city increases manufacturing employment by around 5% in the post period. Likewise, implementing NPIs for an additional 50 days increases manufacturing employment by 6.5% after the pandemic.”

The cost in deaths to the US would range between $750 billion and $15 trillion.

We don’t live to make money. We make money to live.

Notes: some people have asked me how it is possible that the value of some people’s lives is comparable to the size of GDP. GDP is broadly the value created in a year, not the total wealth we have. The total wealth we have in the US is approximately $1 million per person on average, which means the US’s wealth is ~$320 trillion. That does not account for the wealth in terms of life, but puts the cost of $15 trillion in lives into perspective. Also I haven’t talked about the costs to the economy of the Dance phase of the Suppression strategy, once heavy social distancing measures subside. That’s because, if done well, countries can “dance” with only a small subset of measures that don’t cost much: testing, contact tracing, quarantines, isolation, hygiene education, and travel bans. Note finally that a suppression strategy would cost all of society but would benefit older people more, as they are the ones most likely to be saved by these measures. As such, they are a transfer of wealth from all of society towards our seniors, who in the US tend to vote Republican.

4. Out of Many, One

States are bidding against each other for ventilators and protective equipment. Survival of the fittest.

People who are symptomatic and seek care may be billed for a visit with a doctor, an influenza test, a chest x-ray, and bacterial, viral, or blood culture tests. These costs can add up very quickly, particularly for people with no insurance or who have high-deductible health plans.Castlight Report

Conclusion: Join, or Die

Out of many, one.



2 MSc in Engineering. Stanford MBA. Ex-Consultant. Creator of applications with >20M users. Currently leading a billion-dollar business @ Course Hero

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Tomas Pueyo

2 MSc in Engineering. Stanford MBA. Ex-Consultant. Creator of applications with >20M users. Currently leading a billion-dollar business @ Course Hero