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“Leading indicator” shows U. S. may have reached COVID-19 plateau, like Italy and Spain

Geogrande.com / Published April 14, 2020

UNITED STATES - Media reports commonly focus on the daily number of deaths caused by COVID-19 as an indicator of the virus’s spread through the population. The number of deaths each day—while tragic news—is only a “trailing indicator” of the virus’s spread. The number of deaths in a day is a product of the number of new cases reported days earlier—the “leading indicator” of the virus’s spread.

The accompanying graph shows the number of new cases in the United States may have leveled off around 30,000 new cases per day in early April (Data are from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.  The graph uses as a starting day of the virus outbreak the first day that 300 daily new cases were exceeded in each country.) Virus control measures such as social distancing appear to be working.

Graph - New Covid cases reach plateau

The U. S. currently leads the world in the number of new COVID-19 cases each day, followed by Spain and Italy. The number of new cases in the United States reached a peak of 35,527, on April 11, 2020, followed by three days of decline to 25,023 new cases on April 14.

Meanwhile, Spain peaked on April 1 at 9,221 new cases and Italy peaked on March 27 at 6,557 new cases. Since peaking in those two countries, the numbers of new cases reported each day have remained fairly steady, falling within the ranges of 4,000 to 8,000 in Spain and 3,000 to 5,000 in Italy.

Only time will tell how long it will take for the tally of new cases to drop from the graphed plateaus reached in Spain and Italy—and in the U. S.