Unexpectedly Intriguing!
December 9, 2020

Nine months have passed since the first significant numbers of COVID-19 cases were detected in the United States. There is both good and bad news to report at this juncture. The good news is the regional wave of cases in the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and Mountain States appears to have begun receding. The bad news is that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has propagated into West Coast states and has returned with a vengeance to the Northeastern states that experienced the first regional wave of infections in the United States.

Here is a trifecta of charts tracking the daily progression of COVID-19 in the United States. The leftmost chart visualizes the nation's cumulative totals of positive and negative test results from 10 March 2020 through 8 December 2020, with the positive cases broken down to indicate the relative share of Americans who have tested positive, who have been admitted or have been discharged from hospitals, or whose deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. The middle chart tracks the nation's daily test positivity rate, or rather, the percentage of positive test results within the total level of testing. The rightmost chart presents the rolling 7-day averages for the numbers of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., which is where you can see the various regional waves of newly reported cases, where the third is showing very rapid growth from the high population states of California and New York.

Daily Progression of COVID-19, Daily Positivity Rate, and Rolling 7-Day Averages of Newly Confirmed Cases and Deaths in the U.S., 10 March 2020 - 8 December 2020

The first wave indicated in the third chart was especially concentrated in the northeastern region of the U.S. and the second wave mainly affected Sunbelt states across the southern and western part of the continental U.S. The third wave has seen COVID-19 infections spread primarily in the northern plains, the upper midwest, and in mountain states, but also coincides with the return of growing numbers of infections in northeastern states and in the Sunbelt region.

We think political campaign events in October and November may also be contributing to the current rapid spread of cases, where the post-election public celebrations by crowds of Democrats claiming victory in the presidential election while ignoring public health recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are now contributing to the third wave's exponential increase in cases. In addition, celebrations of baseball and basketball sports championships by Los Angeles' professional teams are believed to have contributed to the surge of cases in southern California.

The Progression of COVID-19 at the State and Territory Level

The latest update to the skyline tower chart presents the progression of positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S. by state or territory, ranked according to the reported percentage of cases within the state or territory's population. The individual charts depict the number of positive cases, the number of recovered patients or those discharged from hospitals, the number of hospitalized patients and the number of deaths. Each of these charts is presented in the same scale with respect to the size of its population over the period from 10 March 2020 through 8 December 2020, making it easy to visually compare one jurisdiction's experience with others.

Progression of COVID-19 in the U.S. by State or Territory, 10 March 2020 - 8 December 2020

States in the northern plains and the upper midwest continue to rank highest in this edition of the skyline tower chart, where their towers resemble a standing trumpet flare, but now with decelerating growth in their numbers of newly confirmed cases, giving them more of a bell-shape. North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska currently make up the top tier of states in this category.

Meanwhile, states whose shapes had appeared more like the profile of a bullet, indicating they were among the states that experienced an early wave of cases, are once again showing signs of much faster growth, with the bases of their tower charts now flaring outward. States in this category include Illinois, Rhode Island, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.

New York and California

For this section, we'll present the "trifecta" charts for both New York and California, since these states are contributing the highest number to the national figures. First, here is the chart for New York, where we find that the number of newly confirmed cases is reaching the levels where they peaked in April 2020.

Daily Progression of COVID-19, Daily Positivity Rate, and Rolling 7-Day Averages of Newly Confirmed Cases and Deaths in New York, 10 March 2020 - 8 December 2020

Next, here is the chart for California, where we find that the number of newly confirmed cases is currently more than double that of New York.

Daily Progression of COVID-19, Daily Positivity Rate, and Rolling 7-Day Averages of Newly Confirmed Cases and Deaths in California, 10 March 2020 - 8 December 2020

These charts underscore, once again, how amazingly bad New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's policies were during his state's experience with the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. Those policies, born of his panic, cost the lives of thousands of the state's most vulnerable residents and put the lives of thousands more at risk. It is still an open question of whether he or members of his administration will be held accountable for the easily foreseeable consequences of their policies, as Governor Cuomo has been awarded an Emmy for his television performances during that period.

Previously on Political Calculations

We've regularly tracked the progression of the coronavirus pandemic within the United States since data for it began being tracked on 10 March 2020. Here are the previous entries in our series featuring the skyline tower charts we developed to visualize its rates of spread within the individual states and territories of the U.S., presented in reverse chronological order.

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