Things Are Going To Get Better

A lot of people I know are very afraid of COVID-19. Many have essentially suspended life “until the virus is gone.”  President Trump wants to get America back to work, but fear is holding the country back. In this blog post I am going to show why there is good reason to expect that things are going to get better.

A month ago, the press was full of stories like this, implying that everybody was going to die in a few months, as the disease rises out of control in an exponential curve.

Why ‘Exponential Growth’ Is So Scary For The COVID-19 Coronavirus

This led to panicked decisions by governors and mayors, who shut everything down and crushed the economy, putting more than 20 million Americans out of work so far.

But the exponential rise did not continue. After three weeks, new cases plateaued.

United States Coronavirus: 728,293 Cases and 38,244 Deaths – Worldometer

Most other countries have followed similar three week patterns.  New cases in Italy are down significantly from their peak.

Italy Coronavirus: 175,925 Cases and 23,227 Deaths – Worldometer

The three week rise is fairly typical for these type of viral outbreaks. The graph below is for the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu, which globally killed five hundred times as many people as COVID-19, most of whom were at prime of life in their teens, 20s and 30s. The Spanish Flu also showed a three week exponential rise, followed by a sharp decline. But three weeks into the outbreak, people probably assumed it was going to kill everybody.

Spanish flu – Wikipedia

10 Oct 1919, 7 – The Topeka State Journal at

The graphs below put the magnitude of 1918-1919 flu in perspective.

An Israeli mathematician  has shown that a similar pattern is happening all over the Northern Hemisphere with the current outbreak. He also says that lockdowns serve little purpose other than to decimate the economy.

Top Israeli prof claims simple stats show virus plays itself out after 70 days | The Times of Israel

Here is some data which supports his contention.  Regardless of lockdown policy, most industrialized Western countries are on similarly shaped trajectories with a downwards curvature.

Daily confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million: are we bending the curve?

Here is data from Colorado, where the state was locked down on March 25. Deaths are becoming rare in Colorado, and are a tiny fraction of what models predicted. A large percentage of the deaths were in nursing homes.

Case data | Colorado COVID-19 Updates

At first glance, it appears that the lockdown was successful – but let’s take a closer look at that idea. There is typically a three week lag between infection and death.

The coronavirus death lag explained: How it can take weeks for fatality to be recorded | Daily Mail Online

This means that the effect of the Colorado lockdown would be just starting to show up in the graph now. However, the curve started to tail off two weeks ago, long before the lockdown would have had much (if any) effect on death rates.

The governor will of course take credit for this, even though there is little evidence to support that idea.  More likely Colorado is just following the same curve described by the Israeli mathematicians.

So far, this has been a largely Northern Hemisphere problem, though that is starting to shift a little.

Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV)

Coronaviruses typically peak during the winter, and then tail off as UV light increases in the spring.

It is likely that southern hemisphere countries like Australia (which have had little problem so far) will keep their borders closed indefinitely as winter approaches.  But here in the Northern Hemisphere there is good reason to expect things will get better, and that young healthy people will be able to back to work, if there are any jobs left to go back to.

In my next blog post on this topic I will discuss risk levels for different age groups, and the Swedish strategy to obtain “herd immunity” by the end of May. But in the meantime, let’s support President Trump and get America back to work!

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39 Responses to Things Are Going To Get Better

  1. gregole says:

    For sure let’s get back to work. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home. I still hate it; but I’ve got a job.

    Fact is whatever you compare this to, it isn’t the black death. It isn’t the Spanish flu. It isn’t. As numbers are coming out on places that didn’t do total lock-downs it is becoming apparent that the cat is already out of the bag and we were too late anyhow.

    Get us back to work now!

  2. Scissor says:

    The Colorado governor should explain why Colorado has twice the number of cases and deaths as Arizona, a more populated state.

    The concept of herd immunity does not seem to apply with this virus or for the Spanish flu for that matter.

    So, if the behavior is the same regardless of policy, does this mean there will be no new outbreaks?

  3. Mark Luhman says:

    I hope it goes down for the summer, I been expecting that to happe here early but here in Arizona it been cold for us and a lot of cloudy days this spring.

  4. Steven Parker says:

    No to steal your thunder, but here’s a snippet of analysis I’ve done with CDC data.

    • DCA says:


      A very revealing presentation. Thanks.

      It appears that the risk of death is 13 times higher for those of retirement age than those of working age.

      So somebody remind me why working people have to stay home (?)

  5. rah says:

    Last spring I called off of work for the first time in 11 1/2 years. My S&S were dizziness, fever & chills severe enough to cause uncontrollable shivering, SOB, and a persistent and painful dry (unproductive) cough. I had to lay with my upper torso propped up in order to breath well enough to sleep.

    An initial breathing treatment at the clinic
    Ibuterol inhaler for use as needed
    10 days of Amoxicillin.
    Referral to a respiratory specialist which I did not go to.

    I had called off on a Wednesday and went back to work on the following Sunday though on occasion had to use the ibuterol inhaler for a couple weeks afterwards.

    In retrospect I’m pretty sure what I had was H1N1 though I was never tested. But who knows, it could have been an early case of what is going around now. Always before I had been able to tough it out and keep working but in this case there was simply no way. It was by far the worst case of flu I have ever had. The dry cough was just terrible.

  6. Jimmy Haigh says:

    It’s why I’ve been calling it the first ever global panicdemic.

    • Jessica says:

      And a perfectly executed, economically hugely damaging communist hoax aimed at crippling and, hence, socializing the West by way of centralized interventionism. Easy-peazy

  7. arn says:

    “a hockeystick to rule them all”

  8. THX1138 says:

    The medical and drug businesses claim that viruses are alive, i.e. that they are bugs just like bacteria and fungus

    (candida), but that is not true. Viruses are actually created by the body within a cell, and is most likely a harmless human nucleic acid (chemical compound), rearranged as a response to poisoning. Dr. Stefan Lanka, virologist and molecular biologist, is internationally mostly known as an “AIDS dissident” who has been questioning the very
    existence of “HIV” since 1994. In the past years, however, he stumbled over a breathtaking fact: Not even ONE of the (medically relevant) viruses has ever been isolated; there is no proof of their existence:

    There is no coronavirus.
    The book Virus Mania shows in a simple comprehensible way the diversity of scientific data that proves most of the epidemics presented in the media as horror stories (flu, avian flu, AIDS, BSE, Hepatitis C, etc.) do not actually exist or are harmless.

    In contrast:

    Through this scaremongering and through the toxic materials contained in vaccines a vast number of diseases can emerge; diseases that have recently been increasing on a massive scale: allergies, cancer, autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficite hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autoimmune diseases and disorders of the nervous system.

    The authors, the journalist Torsten Engelbrecht and doctor of internal medicine Claus Kohnlein, succeed in tracking down the real culprits, including the profiteers in this game. They also identify solutions that everybody can easily implement in their daily lives. This work is one of the most important and enlightening books of our times which will instigate an upheaval of the dogmas and delusions that have held for more than 150 years.

    Joachim Mutter, MD
    Institute of Environmental Medicine
    And Hospital Epidemiology
    University Medical Center Freiburg
    Freiburg, 19 December 2006

    Virus Mania: How the Medical Industry Continually Invents Epidemics, Making Billion-Dollar Profits At Our Expense | Torsten Engelbrecht | download

  9. Glenn Curtis says:

    Great work. Keep it up. I’m always surprised that when I try to explain these concepts and data to people they just can’t get over their fears. They just say “I hope you’re right”. Just need it demonstrated by opening up and then more and more will follow. I’m a dentist and whole staff laid off. They are panicking about our return if our Michigan Governor ever gets around to letting us back. We of course create and aerosol with our hand pieces so some justified. Can’t get PPE right now anyway. Anxious for the antibody test. I’m in that group that thinks we all had it in January and February.

  10. Al Shelton says:

    Excellent Tony..
    I have passed this along to my friends; relatives and government reps.
    Thank you..

  11. John F. Hultquist says:

    Thanks Tony. Good reporting.

    Benjamin Gompertz described the curve in 1825. [sigmoid function]
    Humans are slow learners, especially politicians.
    – – – –
    In the rural county where we live there have been zero deaths and only a few confirmed cases. The university has closed and all the schools are closed. Non-essential (sic) activities have all been shut; a few now deceased.
    I don’t think this low population density area is developing “herd immunity.” Assuming schools and the university re-open in September there is likely to be a quick outbreak in early October.
    There may be many such local, and small, outbreaks –mostly going unnoticed in the State and Federal data.

  12. G W Smith says:

    I really want to see ALL the details on those who have died, not just their age!

    • John F. Hultquist says:

      U. S. CDC reports “estimates”, not actual numbers, and the issue is called the burden of influenza. Modeling is used to estimate the number of influenza illnesses, medical visits, flu-associated hospitalizations, and flu-associated deaths.

      The table at this page lists a range of deaths as 46,000 to 95,000, so the 80,000 reported is a guess from that range, as reported many places – started from the same source. Its a decent guess when an official needs a number to feed the news cycle.

      There is not an actual count of flu-related deaths. Included are people whose underlying cause of death on their death certificate included respiratory or circulatory causes.

      • Many thanks John for your comment. It looks very similar to the system in Germany. For the flue season 17/18 the official guess was 20.000 to 25.000. The registered count by the Robert Koch Institute was only 1670.
        I think such figures are not really helpful.

  13. This link might be interesting for all who had read the article about the Prof. from Isreal.

  14. Tony, thanks for the updates on the coronavirus and its impact. I’ve also done an analysis and published this blog entry:
    You might find some of this information useful. It looks like we are in agreement on the key issues.

    Keep doing what you are doing.


  15. Superchunk says:

    It’s important to note that one of the mechanisms of UV light is the production of Vitamin D (and other skin metabolites) which is a major aspect of immune function. This is only true of brief mid-day sun exposure when the sun is above and angle of 50 degrees.. This is part of the reason that flu season is late winter when vitamin D levels are lowest in people who don’t supplement.

    And it’s worth stating again that the overwhelming lesson of this virus is that there is no substitute for strong immune function and a reserve of good health.

  16. jb says:

    the second wave of Spanish FLue (2/8 – 4/5) – which reached 1//2 the peak of th efirst wave, is sure to be played up by all of those that seek to lock USA down for another 6 weeks, 6 months, 3 years, etc….

    They will disregard your data on sunlight.

  17. rwbenson says:


    Thank you for posting this data and explanation. I agree that Fear is the real issue for the United States and the World.

    Please comment on Age and Co-morbidity in your upcoming analysis. The New York data displayed on this Fatality tracking site shows that 88.9 % of deaths have Co-morbidity. Also, most of the deaths are Older people with a Co-morbidity. Very few younger deaths without a Co-morbid issue.

    This argues that a focus on protecting people who are Older and have Co-morbidity would have a greater benefit than locking down everyone.


    In an earlier email you posted a graph from the Pneumonia data on the CDC site that showed a much lower number of deaths for Pneumonia in the USA. I have attached an updated version with the original data for Wk 11 and the revised data for Wk 15.

    This is a good example of how data leads to different conclusions depending on the completeness of the data, and the understanding of how the data is collected and presented.

    My list of possibilities with the wk 11 data were the following:

    1) A great number of pneumonia deaths are being counted as Covid-19 deaths. This is a large number relative to the Covid-19 death total of ~9,000 through Week 14 of 2020. (Week 11 shows 2,431 pneumonia deaths vs a rough average for the last 6 years for Week 11 of 4,200. This delta of ~1,800 is significant to the weekly total, and the delta for the last 4 to 6 weeks would have a large impact on the Covid-19 deaths.

    2) A number of pneumonia deaths in previous years may have been due to flu and were counted as a pneumonia death.

    3) A number of people who were going to die of pneumonia received the Covid-19 virus and that accelerated their time of death.

    4) A number of people that would have died of pneumonia are somewhat isolated because of Covid-19 and they are not getting pneumonia (no contact with the bacteria or the flu virus that runs them down to the point where they are hospitalized for pnuemonia).

    Note: The data in this chart (and table) shows that pneumonia deaths average 180,000 to 190,000 per year. It also shows Influenza deaths to be between 3,000 and 15,000 per year. There are other sources showing Flu deaths in the USA to be 30,000 to 60,000. In fact there is another data page from the CDC (attached) showing 23,000 to 60,000 Influenza annual deaths:

    With the Wk 15 data, the range of interpretations changes:

    I am still thinking thru the interpretations, but they will be clearly different from the list for Wk 11.

    Let me know your thoughts with this new data.

  18. Susan says:

    For some of us the FEAR is VERY real. We are now learning that the conventional medical treatment method in cases may in actuality be killing 60+ % of those treated with ventilators and those who survive ventilators discover a myriad of other new problems. As someone who has multiple strikes to start with, I rather be afraid and almost paranoid than risk this virus while the “professionals” are still learning how and what to use to treat it. Scared YEP absolutely but in the balance in knowing MY risk is like deciding to drive a car with only the emergency parking brake working, now 7 weeks in, the ONLY reliable safety net is NO exposure.

  19. Les Ibrahim says:

    I’m not sure about the three week hypothesis. Sweden as you mention has approached this pandemic without changing their daily practices and if you look at the latest data on COVID-19 from this link – you will see that it has been probably five weeks or more since the graph started an upward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases without any flattening of the curve. I don’t doubt the peaking and then dropping off scenario but I suspect that lockdown measures reduce the time to reach the peak and subsequent drop. Whereas in Sweden’s case the peak may be a way off and certainly well beyond the three weeks.
    I suspect that once Sweden drops off it will quickly be free of the virus with that herd immunity whereas those that took strict measures will have trailing cases for a much longer time meaning a longer time to get back to normality.
    The trade-off Sweden may be willing to take is a higher death rate to be free of the virus quicker. Sweden’s death rate is about 10.7% as of today.
    The US is 5.4% as of today.
    What is puzzling a little is why the UK’s death rate is over 15%.

    • Eric Hatfield says:

      Truthfully we really don’t know the death rate of those infected. We only know the death rate of those tested and confirmed positive. That’s a function of testing, not of the disease.

      There have been recent tests in California and there’s one underway in NY. Hopefully there will be more. Results from California suggests the disease may be 40 to 80 times the confirmed. That means the death rate may be more typical of flu say .05-.1%. Unfortunately due to lack of immunity, if 200 million get infected we’re still looking at 100,000 to 200,000 dead. That’s still enough to justify some mitigation.

  20. DCA says:

    We cannot be the land of the free unless we are first the home of the brave.

  21. Jimmy Haigh says:

    I said a few weeks back that it was time for everyone to put their big boy pants on. But very few have.

  22. richard says:

    What crisis in NYC!

    This lad goes round NYC on his bike and a camera. Check him out before he’s taken down . . .

    the first 17 videos –

  23. Rah says:

    Well, a lot of things are going to get better, but some things, like the media reporting on Trump, the Trump administration, and their expression’s of hate for Trump’s supporters will only get worse.

  24. nfw says:

    A lot of people I know are very afraid of COVID-19. Many have essentially suspended life “until the virus is gone.”

    These rare the people who believe that TV advertising which says such-and-such a product kills 99.99% of household germs. I always laugh at that stupidity because “household germs” are never defined; and that 0.01% remaining has now just become the new 100% and they are multiplying rapidly, you know, the “germs” the product can’t kill. But it makes those on the left side of The Curve feel warm and fuzzy.

  25. JT Symonds says:

    HI Tony. Don’t know if you’ve addressed this or not…Have you looked at the spreadsheet model COVID Act Now? Apparently it’s one of models that the municipalities and Gov’t are using to shut down the economy. I haven’t found the raw spreadsheet yet but when i do I’ll forward to you. I’d like to hear your take on it as a premier data scientist. Website is here:

    Pretty amazing how they had this ready to go…lots of high level people behind it.

    Thx and stay safe

    _JT, professional environmental geologist

  26. JT Symonds says:

    Hi Tony, here is one of the COVID models they are using…love to hear your analysis of it if you have time.

    Thx and stay safe!

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