Correlations with coronavirus death rates as of April 11, 2020 at the state level are weak across the board:
Obesity rate — (.13)
Median age — .09
Clinton’s 2016 vote share — (.04)
Population density — .13
White population % — (.18)
Black population % — .20
Asian population % — .13
Hispanic population % — .11
Anything else come to mind as a potentially meaningful correlate, or is looking at the state level hopelessly imprecise?
Five states–Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota–have still yet to issue shelter-in-place orders. Their coronavirus death rate currently stands at 9 per million. Nationwide, the coronavirus death rate is 62 per million. These states have not been hit nearly as hard as the rest of the country has, at least not yet.
Though we came in for some derision in predicting a couple of weeks ago that the death toll would come in under 100,000 nationwide, it now looks like that’s the way to bet–at least in the pestilence’s first wave. This is great news, a welcome relief for everyone.
The big question still hanging over us has concerns the true infection rate, not just the symptomatic rate. The issue in getting this answered putatively involves scaling up to capacity to administer tens or hundreds of millions of tests.
Okay, but in the meantime can an organization like Gallup team up with a couple of test producers and administer tests to a nationally representative sample of a couple thousand people? Instead of polling people on their political opinions, we poll their coronavirus antibodies or lack thereof.
If we ultimately find out that the penetration rate is much higher than initially suspected–and thus the mortality rate far lower–we can end shelter-in-place, social distancing, and other economically catastrophic tactics for most of the population. The onus for these restrictive measures can instead be placed on high-risk people and until testing capacity becomes ubiquitous, limited testing resources reserved for them.
If that turns out to be the case, we’re really going to be slapping ourselves for not having realized as much last month, since it could’ve been done not just with a small fraction of our testing capacity today, but even of our much more limited capacity from several weeks ago.