Last month we were concerned that the leveling off of new daily cases in Florida and the USA was only temporary. Over the last four weeks of steadily increasing daily case counts (see red squares in the figure below), we are increasingly concerned that we are seeing the beginnings of the third wave as temperatures cool and indoor activities resume in northern USA (Wisconsin is especially bad now). We are also concerned that the pressures to reopen schools for in-person learning, reopen the economy before Election Day, and the increasing numbers of maskless, crowded rallies are exacerbating the normal seasonal rise in cases.
Some of the increasing cases could be due to improved testing. After stalling for 2 months testing has improved as schools and businesses reopen and want to keep ahead of increased infections by increasing testing. This has again picked up an increasing number of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases. If this were the only reason for the recent increase in cases hospitalizations and death counts would not increase.
In fact, after bottoming in mid-September, the number of currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the USA has been rising for the last two weeks (see blue diamonds in the figure below). As we had pointed out before this is a leading indicator of a future rise in death counts.
Death counts are currently stuck near 750 per day (blue diamonds in the first figure above) but will rise again right near Election Day – lagging rising cases by 2 to 4 weeks. This is not a good harbinger for President Trump’s re-election chances. We had suggested that he ease off on maskless, crowded rallies in September to improve his chances of reducing the death count by November but he had chosen to forge ahead with large risky superspeader events such as the Rose Garden announcement for Amy Barrett in defiance of scientific advice. Impatience bought him a second wave in June; impatience will have now bought him a third wave.