COVID-19 Predictions

This was sent as an email to the mailing list on March 20, 2020:

Hello Dear Reader –

Before I say one thing, I will throw out this disclaimer: I am in no way a medical researcher or disease expert. This is just me, looking at the numbers as an engineer and telling you what they tell me.

However, the numbers do tell a very clear story, and I thought you should know.

My data source is this website:

In particular, the graph in the section labeled “Active Cases in the United States”.

You need to select “logarithmic” to get it to look like this.

An exponential function on a logarithmic scale looks like a straight line. This data surely looks linear on this graph from about March 2 to March 18.

This would indicate the growth during this period was very nearly exactly exponential.

On March 2, the value is exactly 100 cases.

On March 10, eight days later, it is 992. Very close to 1000. So, roughly a 10x increase in 8 days.

On March 18, the value was 9259, very close to 10,000, another roughly 10x increase.

So about every eight days, we can expect a 10x increase.

It would follow, then, that in another 8 days we would see 100,000 cases.

In another eight days, 1 million cases.

Eight more days, 10 million cases.

And in another eight days, 100 million cases.

That is one third of the United States, my friends. In 32 days.

That is not good news.

(I hope we never reach those numbers – this email is more about timing than numbers of cases, though)

It seems that despite our efforts, we have not “flattened the curve” very much.

Working the math a little harder, I found that in the US, the number of cases doubles about every 2.44 days and has a tenfold increase about every 8.13 days.

This site seems to be saying the same thing:

If, indeed, we were able to “flatten the curve” it would show up on the worldometers link above. So far, the curve seems not to have flattened much. So, unless this changes, we should anticipate that the whole US will be exposed to the virus in about a month.

I’m no health expert, but it appears to me the hospitals will be overrun.

I’m not going to delve into the dire implications of that.

I will simply say two things:

For you and yours, work hard to play it safe. It looks like in about two weeks time, the virus will be quite prevalent, infecting one million Americans.

In about a month, unless something changes, it will be everywhere in the nation (a slight exaggeration, perhaps, but we’ll go with that for now).

To me, there are two crises that go with this:

One is the obvious health issue. Many people will not be able to get the medical attention they need. Again, I’m not going to paint that picture.

The secondary issue is the economic crisis which has occurred as we try to “hunker down”.

My greatest fear for the economy was that this thing would not take weeks, but months or years to run its course, and that many businesses would not survive. Considering the many people who rely on those businesses for their income, the impact on the economy would be truly devastating.

Instead, it appears to me, the health crisis is going to be our biggest hit. By May, the virus, (if the numbers thus far are a good indicator) will pretty much have run its course. There will be no more need to quarantine ourselves against the virus, because it will be done and gone.

I have heard that this is largely already the case in China. Coronavirus came and went just that quickly.

As for you and yours, be careful these next few weeks, and especially after the number of infections crosses that 1 million mark. The two weeks that follow will be critical in terms of maintaining the health of yourself and your family. If you can avoid leaving the house at all during that time, that would be your best strategy.

And as far as the economic impact, I am hopeful that we can all return to the world we had on March 1 by May 1 or shortly thereafter without too much long term impact.

By that, I mean that shutting the world down for six weeks is one thing, but shutting it down for six months is something else.

Fortunately, unless there is some great shift in the rate of infection in this country, shutting down for six months is something we will not have to endure.

I feel I am the bearer of very bad news today.

However, I have not heard anyone else make any kind of prediction whatsoever, and I felt it was important to get this information to you, and that it would be irresponsible of me not to.

Hard times are ahead of us, my friends. My love and prayers go out to all of you.

PS here is the graph of the extrapolation of the current slope. It reaches 100 million on April 20, 330 million (the entire US population) on April 24. Many assumptions underlie this prediction, so pray that it slows and fewer are infected and that this all goes away sooner. This is just what the number say, and what will come if nothing changes.