Taps Coogan, September 15th, 2020
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The number of new Covid cases in the US has fallen by nearly half from roughly 70,000 a day in mid July to about 35,000 by September 13th, all while executing a touch-and-go re-opening of various states and sectors of the US economy.
The EU, which had greater initial success in containing the first wave of Covid is now having the opposite problem. Daily new cases in the EU have risen to the point of nearly eclipsing the US, perhaps the result of significantly lower per-capita testing rates than the US for most of the last five months and a relatively busy summer travel season within the EU.
Whatever the cause of the improvement in the US and the worsening in the EU, both challenge the notion that widespread economic lockdowns have a future as a useful tool for fighting Covid, especially now that hospital capacity has largely caught up with the problem. The US finally appears to be making significant improvements despite a halting reopening of the economy in most states. On the other hand, the EU appears to be retrogressing despite stricter lock-downs earlier in the crisis.
It’s also a warning not to be too quick to get political with national Covid statistics. Until this crisis is over, we won’t know the whole story. After all, the Covid fatality rate (per capita) in the US is in line with Western European countries that have reported far fewer cases, suggesting a lack of testing for milder cases in Europe may explain a good part of the differences above. Given the current trajectory, it’s entirely possible that the pandemic in the EU will end up having been deadlier than in the US when all is said and done.
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