Washington state was the initial epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. And New York is now the hardest-hit part of the country so far, with hospitalizations increasing at rapid rates — more than 37,000 people had been diagnosed with the coronavirus in New York as of late Thursday afternoon.
Because COVID-19 hit blue, coastal states first, and because politics is politics, the response to the pandemic hasn’t exactly been apolitical.
But blue states are hardly alone in what is becoming a nationwide epidemic. Jefferson Parish, Louisiana — which went for Trump by 15 percentage points in 2016 — has a death rate about equal to that of Manhattan. And as terrifying as the hospital situation is in New York City, hospital capacity is also under strain in states such as Michigan and Georgia.
Overall, although the number of detected cases is higher in blue states, the number is increasing at a more rapid rate in red states.<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="1" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-coronavirus-isnt-just-a-blue-state-problem/#fn-1" data-footnote-content="
Something to keep in mind as we’re comparing cases across states: We’re dealing only with detected cases, and testing regimens — quantity and criteria — have varied from state to state. We can’t say how these numbers are affected by differences in testing rather than the actual infection rate. But this is the data we have. Our hope is that putting states together into big groups of Clinton states and Trump states will mitigate the effects of testing anomalies in any one state.
“>1 Moreover, blue states have conducted more tests per capita than red states, so — given that the large majority of coronavirus cases remain undetected — the lower rate of cases in red states may partially be an artifact of less testing.
Here is the data as of late Thursday afternoon, with states sorted by the increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases between Monday (March 23) and Thursday (March 26).<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="2" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-coronavirus-isnt-just-a-blue-state-problem/#fn-2" data-footnote-content="
Picking the right time interval to analyze changes in the number of cases is tricky, as the daily situation can change rapidly, and bottlenecks in reporting results can sometimes result in irregularities in any one day’s numbers. But a three-day timespan has proven to be a reasonably good compromise as I’ve looked at the data in different states and countries.
“>2 All data is taken from the invaluable COVID Tracking Project.
|March 23||March 26|
|State||Detected cases||Per 10k pop.||Detected cases||Per 10k pop.||Change||2016 winner|
|District of Columbia||116||1.64||231||3.27||99||Clinton|
Nine of the 10 states that have seen the most rapid increase in coronavirus from Monday to Thursday are states that voted for Trump in 2016, led by Texas, where the number of reported cases increased by 297 percent.
On average, states that voted for Trump saw a 119 percent increase in cases over this 3-day period, as compared to an 88 percent increase in states that voted for Hillary Clinton (plus the District of Columbia). Weighted by state populations, the difference is slightly larger: 141 percent in states Trump won and 88 percent in states Clinton won.
For now, states Clinton won do have considerably more total reported cases. As of Thursday, Clinton states had 4.29 positive tests per 10,000 people, as compared to 1.13 per 10,000 people in Trump states. A lot of that difference is attributable to New York; without New York, Clinton states have 1.89 cases per 10,000 people.
But the nature of exponential growth is such that these differences could evaporate in a hurry. If reported cases in Trump states continued to increase at 119 percent every three days (about 30 percent per day) while reported cases in Clinton states increased by 88 percent every three days (about 23 percent per day), then the per capita case count in Trump states would surpass that in Clinton states within about 30 days, or by late April.
Hopefully, the rate of increase will slow in both types of states as we begin to see further effects of social distancing measures in the data. However, these measures were generally enacted earlier and have been more forceful in blue states. That means the rate at which new cases are being diagnosed could slow down faster in blue states than in red states, meaning that red states would catch up earlier.
Blue states have also conducted more testing than red states. In states with reliable estimates of the number of positive and negative tests as of Thursday night,<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="3" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-coronavirus-isnt-just-a-blue-state-problem/#fn-3" data-footnote-content="
That is, excluding states that The Covid Tracking Project says do not report complete negative test results from private labs, and states that had not updated their number of negative tests as of The COVID Tracking Project’s Thursday update
“>3 Clinton states had conducted 21.8 tests per 10,000 people as compared to 12.5 tests per 10,000 people in Trump states.<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="4" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-coronavirus-isnt-just-a-blue-state-problem/#fn-4" data-footnote-content="
Not including results that are reported as “pending”; only tests that were confirmed to be positive or negative.
|State||Tests completed per 10k people*||2016 winner|
|District of Columbia||26.3||Clinton|
That means the true gap in the number of cases may not be as large as the roughly fourfold difference in reported cases between blue states and red states right now. States such as Louisiana have discovered they have far more cases than they originally realized as they’ve ramped up testing over the past week, and other red states (and blue states) could follow.
COVID-19 has also led to a slightly higher case fatality rate (the number of deaths as a share of the number of known cases) in red states so far. As of Thursday evening, the death rate per case was 1.7 percent in Trump states as compared to 1.3 percent in Clinton states. This could reflect a variety of factors, including potential underreporting of cases in Trump states,<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="5" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-coronavirus-isnt-just-a-blue-state-problem/#fn-5" data-footnote-content="
Since missing more non-severe cases will lead to a higher apparent case fatality rate.
“>5 the age and health of the populations in each set of states, or the efficacy of responses by local health care systems.
However, the higher fatality rate it is a somewhat troubling sign for red states given that many of them are generally at an earlier point in their epidemic curves, meaning that many people who have acquired COVID-19 in those states have done so recently and have not yet developed the most serious symptoms that could lead to long-term hospitalization or death.
A stunning 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, almost 5 times as many as the 695,000 who filed initial claims in the old record-high week. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Ben Casselman, an economics reporter at The New York Times, joins Galen Druke and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux to put those numbers in context, discuss what the future looks like and talk about how the government is responding.
You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.
The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.
The spring and summer of 2020 were poised to offer some of the biggest moments yet for women’s basketball. Stellar Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu — who declined to enter the WNBA draft as a junior last year for another crack at the national title — had the Ducks looking like the favorite going into this season’s tournament. Ionescu is also the presumptive No. 1 pick in this year’s WNBA draft, whereupon she would have the chance to start a rivalry with Elena Delle Donne and the rest of the league’s veteran stars. And of course, the best women’s players in the world would congregate in Tokyo this July for the Olympics, another prime showcase for the sport on a global stage.
Now all of that is up in the air because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA Tournament was canceled, denying Ionescu her last chance at college glory. The draft, the subsequent WNBA season and even the Olympics have not yet been postponed, but there will be many logistical challenges to keeping their schedules — from the 90-plus active players currently overseas during the outbreak, to the possibility that postponed men’s sports will crowd the women out of arenas deep into the summer. And that’s assuming the virus’s spread is stopped in time to hold sporting events (with or without fans) before summer’s end. Whatever momentum women’s basketball had a few weeks ago will likely be gone by the time it resumes again.
And it did have momentum. The women’s NCAA Tournament saw its highest attendance in 15 years in 2019, and television ratings for the final were slightly up year-over-year — despite subscriber losses from ESPN, the event’s main broadcaster, and a less dominant season than usual by perennial draw UConn. The WNBA had a rough finals in terms of television ratings but had shown more encouraging signs earlier in the summer. And in general, interest in women’s basketball has been rising in recent years. According to Google Trends, search interest in both the women’s NCAA tourney and (especially) the WNBA was higher in 2019 than it was in 2016:
For the WNBA in particular, search traffic was up nearly 50 percent from three years earlier. Over the same span, the league’s players embraced labor solidarity with the U.S. women’s national soccer team in its high-profile quest for pay equality and were ultimately able to earn more money and better benefits in a new collective bargaining agreement signed in January.
And there was even more reason for optimism when looking ahead to 2020. As Bela Kirpalani of High Post Hoops recently noted, ticket demand for the 2020 WNBA season was increasing substantially as compared with 2019. According to data from VividSeats, an online ticketing marketplace, late-February site traffic was up year over year for 11 of the WNBA’s 12 teams, and six teams saw traffic increase at least twofold from 2019 (headlined by the defending champion Washington Mystics, whose traffic was up 837 percent in 2020).
The team with the second-largest surge in ticket interest (up 234 percent) was the New York Liberty, and that’s no coincidence. The Liberty have the first pick in the 2020 draft, and one of the other trends VividSeats noted was that Oregon women’s basketball ticket prices had exploded during Ionescu’s four seasons in Eugene,<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="1" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/womens-basketball-was-building-momentum-then-all-the-games-stopped/#fn-1" data-footnote-content="
In fairness, this was also perhaps related to the fact that the Ducks were tournament-bound in all four seasons after making it just once over the previous 15 years.
“>1 a testament to her drawing power. With the Liberty presumably getting a new star and moving from Westchester County to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the biggest market in the league would have a lot to be excited about.
But the coronavirus has imposed a new reality on our world, and sports are by no means an exception. The WNBA draft, scheduled for April 17, could conceivably be held on schedule — the NFL is planning to conduct its draft a week later, closed to the public, likely with the aid of technology to ensure proper social distancing. But it’s looking less and less likely that other items on the league schedule will happen as planned.
On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended banning mass gatherings of 50 or more people for the following eight weeks, which would push back any event with fans (and perhaps limit teams to skeleton staffs) until mid-May at the earliest. (Opening day is scheduled for May 15.) More realistically, the NBA has braced for the possibility that it will not be able to return until mid-to-late June, if not later; along those same lines, it has checked on arena availability into August.
What this means for the WNBA is unclear.
The league, usually on precarious financial footing even in normal times, will lose precious revenue if it plays games without getting gate revenue from fans. And with fans facing a recession, they may be less willing to spend even when the arenas reopen. There is also the question of how the WNBA would manage to carve out space in the sports calendar in late summer, if both the NBA and NHL — with whom three WNBA teams share arenas — claim arena dates and broadcast slots.
Also unclear: how the many, many WNBA players who supplement their incomes playing overseas will be able to keep those obligations if their American schedule is pushed back. (And how long international travel bans will be in effect, preventing players from playing abroad.)
Meanwhile, it seems more and more inevitable that this crisis will force the Olympics to be postponed. If that comes to pass, it would delay Team USA’s chance to win its seventh straight gold medal — and to tap into the same energy that made the U.S. women’s soccer team sporting icons last summer. The only saving grace from the WNBA’s perspective might be that it has a built-in Olympic break from mid-July to mid-August, which could potentially create a period of time for the other major sports to finish their seasons without overlap.
But it seems very likely that, in this time of great disruption, women’s hoops will have to improvise to keep from falling through the cracks. An optimist might predict increased excitement for sports whenever the leagues do come back, given the void left when essentially all of them suspended play all at once; maybe that appetite for competition will extend across the entire sporting landscape.
But with the amount of uncertainty facing all sports this year, the possibilities that women’s basketball held just a few short weeks ago have been dashed, its hard-fought progress now on hold.
Seriously, Id have graduated a year sooner if I hadn’t been building this Minecraft city. That was back in 2012 and several others helped in creating the avenues, channels, subways, skyscrapers, government buildings, hospitals, houses, forts and more.
Finding Coronavirus Boring?
We’ve brought this classic Minecraft server map back and are hosting it free with anyone welcome to check out and play on.
Minecraft Map Features
The map includes a to scale Titanic in the harbor, the Sears Tower soars over the Great Pyramid of Giza along side a giant Statue of Liberty size statue of a Minecraft citizen. The Empire State Building can be climbed to the top and the skyline reviewed from the many tall buildings you may recognize from the Chicago skyline or another city.
Walk freely among the villagers and add too or found a village of your own in the distant lands.
Transportation used to include a network of many train lines and subways that now lie dormant but serve as landmarks for finding your way back to town if needed.
Minecraft not included but with the game anyone can connect at 18.104.22.168 and avoid the Coronavirus boredom.
Social distance but virtually a whole world awaits your exploration.
One of the most pernicious parts of the COVID-19 crisis is how uncertain everything is. Researchers and officials cite statistical models that estimate infection rates, death counts and when things will go back to normal, but those estimates are changing rapidly. And as the forecasts bounce around, so do the rest of us living through the crisis. How can one feel settled when the future feels so volatile?
Still, there’s a way to at least get a sense for what the experts are thinking. For the past five weeks, infectious disease researchers from institutions around the United States have been taking a survey that gathers their thoughts on the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus. The researchers come from academia, government and industry and are experts in modeling the spread of viruses like this one. The survey asks about things like how many people will eventually get COVID-19 and how many Americans will die.
The top-line numbers are sobering. The most recent survey, taken on March 16 and 17, found that, as a group, the experts think that as of March 15, only 12 percent of infections in the U.S. had been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They think there’s a 73 percent chance of a second wave of hospitalizations this fall. And they expect approximately 200,000 deaths in the U.S. by the end of the year.
But averages can only tell you so much. When forecasting the future, it also matters what a person (or model) thinks the range of possibilities could be — how uncertain the forecast is, in other words. In this survey, the experts gave three answers to most questions, representing the most likely future scenario and the best-case and worst-case scenarios.
Collecting responses in this form captures both the best-guess estimate from each respondent and the uncertainty surrounding it. It also lets the people in charge of the survey — Thomas McAndrew and Nicholas Reich, both biostatisticians at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst — convert the responses to a probabilistic consensus forecast,<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="1" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/infectious-disease-experts-dont-know-how-bad-the-coronavirus-is-going-to-get-either/#fn-1" data-footnote-content="
For the stats-savvy among us: Each response triplet is converted to a triangular distribution, and the consensus forecast is an equally weighted average of these triangular distributions.
“>1 something that can answer questions like, “According to these researchers, what is the probability that we will have 50,000 reported cases by March 29?”
Expert consensus forecasts give you what a model does — a forecast that gives a measure of its uncertainty — without being overly reliant on just one way of thinking about a problem. In this instance, each expert has their own assumptions about how likely the virus is to spread or to be fatal, as well as assumptions about the ways humans might try to mitigate its damage.
Here’s what the researchers collectively had to say in the March 16-17 survey.
How many total COVID-19 cases in the U.S. will the CDC report on March 29?
At the time the survey was in the field, about 3,500 cases had been reported. But the experts estimated that by Sunday, March 29 — a little under two weeks after they took the survey — the country would have seen anywhere from 10,000 to 75,000 cases. (The current count is 15,219.) The experts’ confidence in those estimates, however, varied greatly:
Andrew Lover, an epidemiologist from the University of Massachusetts who took the survey, said his estimates were “semi-quantitative” and based on the virus’s progression in other countries. “The doubling times have been 5-8 days most places, so it’s a matter of applying that with some sliding-scale adjustments (testing rates, population density, etc.) based on the ‘feel’ of the epidemic curves.”
The consensus forecast generated by the individual responses indicates that we should expect roughly 19,000 reported cases by March 29, with an 80 percent chance of seeing between 10,500 and 81,500 cases.
What percentage of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. had been reported as of March 15?
Experts estimated that, on March 15, when the CDC had publicly identified about 3,500 cases, only between 5 percent and 40 percent of actual COVID-19 cases had been reported. But experts’ confidence in those numbers was shaky.
The consensus model indicates that only 12 percent of cases had been reported at that time. In other words, the researchers think there were actually about 29,000 infections in the U.S. as of March 15, more than eight times the known tally.
How likely is it that there will be a second wave of hospitalizations later this year?
Just as flu season can have two peaks, the surveyed experts think there’s a good chance there will be a second wave of coronavirus-related hospitalizations sometime between August and December. Individual estimates for the likelihood of that second round of cases ranged from 40 percent to 96 percent, with an expert consensus of a 73 percent chance.
How many people will die in the U.S. due to COVID-19 this year?
Experts’ estimates of the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. in 2020 ranged from 4,000 all the way to 1 million, a huge range that highlights how much we still don’t know about this disease.
The expert consensus is to expect about 200,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 this year, but the uncertainty around that number is also huge: There’s an 80 percent chance the final number will be between 19,000 and 1.2 million, according to these estimates.
The researchers plan to continue conducting these weekly surveys. As some elements of the pandemic become clearer — such as the virus’s incubation period and fatality rate, and how far the U.S. is willing to go to slow the spread of the virus — these ranges will presumably narrow.
But for now, there’s a lot the experts still aren’t certain of. Just like the rest of us.