ND COVID Update, 09 November 2020

The Governor gave another press conference today describing the situation in a way very similar to what I detailed over the last few weeks. We are at, or near, an exponential growth situation for virus cases. The Governor’s message was about strain on the health network in the state, which is a real concern going forward.

Positivity rates continue to increase and are spiking in that exponential fashion. The volume of cases mean that difficult cases are increasing and thus so are hospitalizations. Difficult cases increase and naturally so do deaths. This relationship is really not in question. Essentially without some type of reversal in the near future we can expect at least some of the worst case health crisis mentioned throughout the last few months.

The red line is the cumulative percentage of positives out of the North Dakota population. Two thing to note here. First, it is approaching 10% of the population, and if the numbers from the last 7 days continue we will hit that level in 16 days. Second, the bend in the red line indicates that exponential increase. If I shortened the time scale it would be more apparent but it is even visible now so why bother.

This is happening all over the country right now. With staffing stretched already it would be tempting to think we could hire more nurses or any other kind of medical personnel. Good luck. This story will be going on all around the country and other places will have advantages over North Dakota. If the anecdotes about getting and retaining people in North Dakota are true why would we have an advantage in a pandemic when it is here already?

The economic consequences are still difficult to determine. Why? Covid 19 changes consumer behaviors. The changes include different shopping patterns including times of day and goods purchased. That hoarding of toilet paper back in April? People could not keep safe on the actual health risk so they went overboard elsewhere. People are also changing eating habits. This one is complicated. The easy part is that many people are eating out less and that is straining the industry greatly since much of it was a low margin, high volume business. Quite frankly the big players are doing a better job explaining how they never touch your food so companies like McDonald’s are killing it.

Of course it is harder to get exercise and people are sitting more and getting less movement overall. So expect some longer term health degradation as a result of that as well. Even with encouraging news on the vaccine front starting it is a long time until we are out of the woods on this front.

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