US COVID-19 Death Rate: Understanding a link

So I linked to one important source I used in my non-professional but (hopefully) mathematically literate guesswork about how COVID-19 deaths in the US will increase over the next while. What I didn’t appreciate at that time was that the graphic that they used to discuss geometric growth in deaths in various countries is a dynamic graphic. Every time a country updates its total deaths on its own official websites, which happens once a day or more for Eurpoean and North American countries, the graphic itself updates. This means you can’t click on the link from a past article (or in this paragraph) and get easy access to the numbers I used when writing a particular blog post.

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How fucked is the USA? A COVID-19 DeathSplainer.

SARS-CoV2 infections were originally doubling once every 2.5 days, according to the CDC and the WHO. Over the last 4 days, deaths in different countries have had different doubling rates, but US deaths doubled very close to once in that 4 days.

This is a result of the fact that the places with the highest numbers of deaths also have done the most to slow transmission via shelter-in-place orders and other measures. So even if infections and deaths are doubling much faster in counties and states that haven’t yet been hit hard, the total number of deaths they add from a single doubling might yet be small compared to deaths in, say, New York City, which had over 500 on Friday. (By the way, New York City’s measures haven’t yet been effective at slowing the doubling: their deaths doubled in a mere 3 days.) We are not likely headed for a slowdown of the doubling rate because there are so many places where the virus is just beginning its infectious burn, and while each individual county might be small, there are many counties with many, many people in Texas and Florida and Georgia and other red states.

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