Yesterday’s Wuhan coronavirus numbers

Yesterday, March 20, there were 5,594 new reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. according to Worldometer. That’s up from 4,530 on March 19 and 2,848 on March 20. The number of new reported cases has doubled in two days.

As a reader points out, we can expect the number of reported “new cases” to increase rapidly as testing becomes more widespread. The reported numbers understate the actual numbers, and this was more true in the past than it will be going forward.

Yesterday, there were 49 new reported deaths. On March 19, there were 57. On March 18, there were 41. The U.S. total through yesterday was 256.

One thing we can say with complete confidence: Richard Epstein’s suggestion of less than a week ago that the U.S. death count would be about 500 was way off. However, I think Epstein was right to criticize some of the doomsday projections others were putting forward. At this point, I would regard with considerable skepticism any effort to forecast U.S. deaths from this virus.

Italy had 5,986 new reported cases yesterday, about 400 fewer than the U.S. did. If the trend in new reported cases from both countries continues, we will very soon have more per day than Italy.

That’s not because Italy’s numbers are improving. Its count of new reported cases and new reported deaths was higher yesterday than in the two previous days.

Our numbers are getting worse faster than Italy’s. It may be that Italy is approaching the peak of its epidemic, whereas we may not be close to it. However, I don’t know what the scale of testing in Italy is, and therefore don’t know the extent to which the two countries’ new reported cases number are “apples to apples.”

And, of course, the U.S. has a much larger population than Italy does.

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