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What to watch: Key data points as US nears 1 in 1,000 infected

Derek Wallbank, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

There are some harsh numbers describing the virus pandemic that people should start getting mentally prepared for. Here are some of the major milestones we're watching for, all of which could happen in the coming week:

One million cases: The world will hit 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases globally this week. We're at 937,000 now, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. We are almost certainly already well past that due to undercounting or lack of testing and it's hard to say by how much. However, the official tally will surpass the million mark and possibly in the next 24-48 hours.

In New York, everyone knows someone: Within a few days, New York state may get to a point where every one in 200 people is a confirmed case. New York City is already past that point. Think of it this way -- the median Facebook user has about 200 friends, according to the Pew Research Center, and the average adult user has 338 Facebook friends. So, as it falls somewhere in that range, basically everyone you know in New York knows someone who's got this.

U.S. cases double next country: U.S. will shortly have twice as many confirmed cases as any other country. Even if you toss China out of the count for reasons including suspected under-reporting, that's still double anywhere in the western world. If you're in America, this may possibly happen by the time you wake up in the morning.

1 in 1,000: Even with a lack of available testing and delays in getting test results back, about 1 in every 1,500 people in the U.S. have a confirmed case of coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Census Bureau. The daily case count has been rising, but even if it levels off, the U.S. may still get to a point where 1 in 1,000 nationally have it in the next week or so.

European growth stability: A possible silver lining among those clouds. While cases in Europe are still growing, the growth itself may be slowing. The five-day moving average of new cases has dipped in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, the U.K. and the Netherlands within the last week, according to Johns Hopkins data. Let's see if it becomes a trend.

 

Asia death rates: Outside of China in Asia, a longer-term data point worth keeping a close eye on is the very low mortality rates experienced in advanced, high-testing countries such as South Korea and Singapore. In both countries, held up in the U.S. and elsewhere as a model for response, deaths per capita infected run below their European and American counterparts. If that maintains, look for policymakers in the west to increasingly look eastward for potential solutions.

(c)2020 Bloomberg News

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