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Will California be spared?

I have to say I've been thinking states like Florida, California, and Texas represent a sort of ticking time bomb and that when wide-scale testing becomes available, we'll see another ramp of cases. Now I'm questioning that point-of-view.

The chart below demonstrates the percent of all SARS-CoV2 tests that have returned positive results for all states that have administered 10,000 or more tests.

This differences across the states are striking. Over 40% of those tested in Michigan, New York, and New Jersey were infected with the virus. In contrast, about 10% of those tested in Florida, California, and Texas were. I've highlighted the 5 most populous in orange to help you find these states on the chart.

Now one might say that's because they haven't tested enough or because people don't have access. Perhaps, but I doubt it. The people getting tested in all the states generally fall into two categories: 1) Those who had contacted with suspected carriers. 2) Those who have been experiencing symptoms.

Now consider, as of April 4 113,000 Californians had been tested with 10.6% of them testing positive. That's 10.6% of people who had a reason to think they were infected. Unless there is some large, irrepressible force preventing symptomatic people from getting tested, the more people California tests, the smaller that proportion will become.

The larger point is that California (and Texas, and Florida) aren't aberrations. They are just part of a large number of states with ongoing test results hovering between 10-15% positive. Now depending on one's point-of-view that's an indication that the US' social distancing efforts have been successful or a demonstration they simply weren't necessary.

On that point it is difficult for me to believe the rates of infection wouldn't have been higher without these efforts. Later this week I'll present evidence that Sweden's relatively lax approach to social distancing has inhibited its ability to limit the virus' spread.


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