So what does the data show?
According to the latest Goldman state-level coronavirus tracker, the prevalence of coronavirus symptoms is rising, with the share of patients seeking care with symptoms of Covid-like illness at 3.5%, up 0.4% from 2 weeks ago. Daily confirmed new cases have risen steadily over the past several days to 86 per million, ending a 2-month decline. A big part of this is due to increased testing: indeed, the volume of daily coronavirus tests has risen 23% over the last two weeks, while the positive test rate has risen by 1.3pp to 6.2%. On the flipside, fatalities have declined over the last two weeks (-12% to 1.9 per million), although fatalities lag new cases by multiple weeks.
As a reminder, the federal government recommends states meet four criteria to proceed with reopening:
- symptoms should be declining,
- new cases should be declining,
- the positive test rate should be below 10%,
- at least 30% of ICU capacity should be available.
Currently Arizona and South Carolina—accounting for 4% of the US population—meet none of the four criteria; 8 states including Texas and Florida meet only 1 criterion; 14 meet 2; 12 meet 3; and only 14 states meet all 4 criteria.
As Goldman notes next, while states make their own decisions about reopening, a decline in hospital capacity below 20% could pressure states to consider slowing or reversing reopening. In this context, according to the latest CDC data, Alabama and Maryland currently have 23% of ICU beds available (with Covid patients accounting for 7% and 13% of occupancy respectively), and Arizona has 25% available (with Covid patients accounting for 11%).
Looking at the average US state, Goldman concludes that it currently meets 2 of the 4 federal gating criteria, with the most notable recent development being that the prevalence of Covid-like illness symptoms is declining in states representing 20% of the population, compared to close to 50% a week ago. New cases are declining in states representing only 30% of the population, also worse than last week. More encouragingly, the vast majority of states have a positive coronavirus test rate below 10%, and states covering 80% of the population have available ICU capacity above 30%