Five weeks ago, I blogged how the state of Georgia could be looking at what Israel is doing as a model for slowing the spread of COVID-19. Today I want to go back to the numbers.
On March 23 – 30 days after its first case – Israel stood at 1071 cases and one death, whereas at at only 17 days after its first case, Georgia had fewer confirmed cases (620) but far more deaths (25).
As of this moment, Israel’s Ministry of Health reports 15,466 cases and 202 deaths. The numbers have grown. But so have Georgia’s and they far surpass Israel’s which was hit two weeks earlier.
Georgia, as of last night, had 23,481 confirmed cases (one and a half times higher than Israel today) and 916 deaths (over four times the number of deaths as Israel).
Israel has continued to keep its numbers down. As I wrote then, the Israeli government employed tracing, tracking, testing and restrictions. Georgia was slow to put anything in place and when it did, it forced individual towns and counties to reduce their restrictions. And now, as the world knows, Governor Kemp has allowed businesses that require close contact to open.
When governments trace sick people’s steps and warn those who’ve crossed their paths to quarantine, when they test not only the sick, but the suspected sick, when they restrict movement of all, then fewer people can carry the virus to others, which slows the trajectory down and allows hospitals more breathing space. As one map used in my previous blog shows, there are many counties in Georgia which simply do not have any hospitals.
Testing matters too. From Domo’s testing and treatment tracker, Israel is testing 3,734 people per every 100,000 of population; the state of Georgia’s number, among the worst in the US, is only 1,148 per 100,000.
Of course, scarcity of protective gear complicates efforts as well. (The fact that the United States knew since late 2019 and it is now almost May and there are still shortages is beyond me. Not only me. This must-read op-ed from the Irish Times says it better than anyone else can.)
Here’s one other update/comparison worth looking at. On March 23, I wrote that the Covid 3 Weeks website using its rough formula predicted that on day 34, that is, on April 13, Georgia would have 11,400 cases and 460 deaths. When I used that site, a number of people said to me that its doubling is conjecture. True, But here we are today and Georgia now has more than twice the number of confirmed cases (23,481) and almost twice (916) the number of deaths.
Again, I ask, where will be in two weeks’ time? In three?
Dougherty County, GA’s coroner Michael Fowler has stopped asking the same thing. As he notes so eloquently in his horrifically sad piece in the Washington Post, “I try not to count down the days or make projections about when all of this is going to be over. The truth is, it’s starting to become routine… The chamber of commerce has gone ahead and given me a tractor trailer with shelves to store extra bodies, which I might need depending on how reopening goes and how many more cases we get. The phone calls used to wake me up at all hours of the night. Now, I’m usually up waiting.”
Where data is concerned, there are many metrics to take into consideration, like the number of new cases each day or the number of hospital beds. Some models say that the state will have its peak on May 1; do they event take into consideration the loosening of restrictions, businesses opening, people already not staying home?
Talk about second wave doesn’t make sense to me; we haven’t yet seen the end of the first wave. Still, just to have something to look back on in three weeks’ time, I’d like to plug in today’s numbers to that same website. Its numbers are petrifying. Georgia could be looking at 431,560 cases and 16,840 deaths, numbers too astronomical to comprehend.
But at one point, so was 11,400 cases and 460 deaths.
The logic of what I asked five weeks ago hasn’t changed. “Please, no matter where you are, stay home.”