It’s Time to Open the Economy

Data downloaded from 5/30/2020 10:00am EST

Daily mortality rate now below 1,000

As can be seen from the USA Daily Mortality chart above, the 1 week trailing average has, for the first time since early April, slipped below the 1,000 deaths per week mark. We are using the trailing average because it can be seen clearly from the chart that there is a rhythm to the daily reports indicated by the steep drop in the numbers on each weekend. We suspect that many counties close for the weekend, and catch up their reporting by week’s end. The trailing average smooths out these weekend dips, and gives us an insight into the trends in the numbers. These numbers are encouraging, and are consistent with, if a few weeks behind, the decline in mortality across Western Europe. This could be the result of the aggressive Shelter at Home orders across the affected countries, but it could also signify that the disease has a seasonal component. The data does not have clear signals that we have found in that regard. There has been an explosive growth of the pandemic in Brazil, but this seems the only southern hemisphere nation that has suffered badly; time alone will tell on this subject.

Additional important data points

The data that should drive policy conclusions are widely and publicly available. We share some of those data below.

downloaded from on 5/31/2020 12pm EST

Firstly, we look at excess deaths. This is best illustrated by the CDC provisioned diagram above, showing the orange line depicting the “expected deaths” for each of the months from January 1 2017 through to May 16th 2019. The diagram shows the extent that COVID-19 has impacted the rate of deaths, confirming suspicions that the reported deaths are probably somewhat lower than the actual (indicated by the green bars that rise above the orange line. However, the numbers do not appear to be excessive, probably no more than would occur in a higher than usual seasonal influenza mission, as see in the January 2018. It is difficult, given the very localized, county based death reporting, and the understandable variation of interpretation of the rules of reporting.

Last week we published research on the IFR (Infection Fatality Rate) of COVID-19 by Dr. Linus Wilson, Associate Professor of Finance University of Louisiana at Lafayette. This showed an amazing disparity between mortality rates of these age cohorts:

Children between 0 to 17 years old – between 0.001% (for boys) and 0.002% (for girls) – for a combined rate of 0.002%, a fraction of the mortality rate of seasonal flu

Adults from 19 to 44 – between 0.111% (for men) and 0.067% (for women) – for a combined rate of .087%, roughly the mortality rate of seasonal flu

From this point, things go downhill, fast and far: from ages 45 to 64. the mortality rate rises to about 10 times that of seasonal flu, and rise to 100 times that of seasonal flu over the age of 75. Details can be found in

This research is borne out by the following diagrams from the CDC for dates up to May 16 (all images downloaded on May 31, 2020 from:

Weekly counts of deaths vs prior years, age groups under 25 years old
Weekly counts of deaths vs prior years, age groups between 25 and 44 years old
Weekly counts of deaths vs prior years, age groups between 45-64 years of age
Weekly counts of deaths vs prior years, age groups between 65-74 years of age
Weekly counts of deaths vs prior years, age groups between 75-84 years of age
Weekly counts of deaths vs prior years, age groups over 85 years of age

These graphs show the relative benign nature of the disease for the very young and the young: from above 45 years on it becomes more serious, and above 65 an extremely serious condition, and as we have heard, particularly for those with other health risks.

Conclusions to be drawn

These mortality figures are important considerations for policymakers.

It should now be be apparent to all that we cannot continue the policy of Shelter at Home until a vaccine becomes available, if ever.

There is serious damage to the social fabric of society from the economic consequences. The situation will worsen significantly with even a short period of continuation of the shut downs.

On the other hand, it is clear that while we have to protect our seniors, and those with potential co-morbidities, the vast majority of our society should be functioning at or near normalcy. Sweden have shown, with a mortality rate no worse than the average European experience, that the economy can be kept open, and society function, kids remain at school, while the necessary protections are provided for the elderly and vulnerable.

If we look at the excellent graphs featured by live.rt, we can see that almost every state now has an Rt rate of less than 1 (that is below the point at which the disease will tend to spread).

Uploaded from 5/31/2020 at 9:00am EST

This shows that most states (including New York) are below an Rt of 1; certainly the large majority of the population of the USA is below the Rt of 1, and most other states are hovering extremely close. It’s time to end the Shelter at Home orders, or the social unrest that we are experiencing will lead to far more serious threats than the pandemic ever could.

The comparison between the USA and Europe

We always end the post with the comparison between the USA pandemic experience with that of the principal European countries comprising of a similar population, and we do so again today. The feature of today’s comparison is that it is the first time that the US is shown to have done more tests per 1 million population than the combined European average. This is remarkable, because at the beginning of April the US lagged Europe by about 40%. We originally published this comparison as an indication of the failure of the testing policy, and we have been extremely critical in this regard. The number in the table is cumulative, so the fact that the US has caught up is very impressive, and marks a very big turn around. This bodes well for a change in the Shelter at Howm policy.

All data downloaded from on 5/31/2020 at 12:00pm EST