We have very little in the way of actual news today, so we will dispense with what we do have as fast as we can.

Big picture: new cases are down in the US as a whole, and in Tennessee. Knox County showed a notable jump with 14 new cases. We’re hesitant to interpret that number on its own: we’ll see what the county health department says at tomorrow’s briefing. The first look we’ve had at a phased US re-open basically looks like the shutdown in reverse: the last things to close will be the first to open, etc. Social distancing remains. We have a couple of thoughts on that at the end.

Numbers

We have changed our chart format at the US and state levels to better reflect the most useful numbers. Only new cases are below (columns) with a 7-day rolling average (line). While we won’t totally give up on total cases it is less interesting because it can only go up. New cases tell us more about where this thing is going than total cases.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

On the whole, new cases are clearly trending downward. Zooming into TN you see what we’ve mentioned before, things are mostly flat. This is mixed news. On the one hand, it’s great that new cases are not growing, and, of course, our absolute number of cases is less than than the new cases for the state of New York on any given day this in April.

At the same time, it would be much better to see that line taking a steeper slope downward.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

By the way, if you want to see the same graph for your state click here, go to the fourth page and select your state on the left.

Here is MN.

Also, you can do it on your phone but it is much easier to navigate on a bigger screen.

Screenshot of JM Addington created PowerBI COVID-19 Report

Pretty much no one is willing to say that we are past the apex, as a whole because, (1) they don’t want people to let their guard down, and (2) it takes 10-15 days of data, on the low end, to make that call responsibly.

We don’t want to be irresponsible, but we’ll note that —broadly — the IMHE model (03/27 version) seems to have held up rather well. This model predicted a national mid-April peak.

Source: IMHE 03/27 model; Deaths data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

The Knoxville area continues to see a slow growth in cases:

Source: Data from the New York Times; Chart by JM Addington

Knox County is still the bulk of the area cases, and today it jumped. There was no briefing today so we haven’t heard if KCHD thinks anything of it. It is equally possible that we had a notable increase or that Knoxvillians took seriously the call to go and get tested.

Source: Knox County Health Department

News

The SBA Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funds, as expected.

The Washington Post ran a story today about how COVID-19 has become the second leading cause of death for Americans, a point we made when it was in third place, on April 2.

Multiple outlets are reporting about a nursing home in New Jersey that was so overwhelmed with deceased it was putting bodies in an outdoor shed. It isn’t surprising, these same types of care facilities were overrun with deaths in Italy and Spain. In Tennessee, 71+ make up nearly 60% of COVID-19 deaths (TDH, as of today).

The US has officially lost more jobs in the last month than were gained in the last 10 years. To us, this is viewed, equally, from two perspectives. One, the downside economics of COVID-19 are awful. Two, awful is relative, we have as many jobs in 2020 as we did in 2010. This level of jobs was once called, “normal.” That isn’t to minimize the pain, especially if you lost your job. We can and will come back, the question is: when?

Initial Thoughts on Opening Up

We’re going to focus on Tennessee here but the broader application works anywhere.

Vanderbilt released their own predictive model, especially for Tennessee, on April 10th with an update today. One of its findings was that in mid-March each infected Tennessean would go on to infect another five people (the transmission number). [1] Another takeaway was that they estimated that it only took ten positive cases in Tennessee to launch the epidemic here. (Scroll back up and see what the new cases line looks like for TN from March 15 to April 1).

By last week that number had dropped to 1.4, and by this week, “about one.” A transmission number of 1 means that cases are neither increasing nor declining. The transmission number has to go below one for us to actually make progress against COVID-19, not just battle it to a draw.

The descriptive analyses above highlight an essential takeaway: Tennessee’s recent progress, while real and positive, is fragile. Our analysis of the recent data indicatesthat without further changes to the transmission number, Tennessee may be settling into a “simmer.”

Vanderbilt COVID-19 Modeling Report for Tennessee April 16, 2020

It seems possible to have a phased re-opening, as is being suggested, without a massive increase in cases, but everything has to go right. We can’t imagine that it will. Instead, we believe it is likely that things are going to go up and down for a while. The transmission number will stay steady or decrease, and then jump in certain geographies as we open up too fast. Those areas will end up going in a stricter lockdown, either mandated or voluntarily.

We mostly think that the math determines this: if the transmission number goes back up to 2.5 or 5.0 then you are looking at a two-to-fourfold increase of cases inside a week, and a four-to-sixteenfold increase inside of two or three weeks. That’s where we were at mid-March as things began to shutdown. That was only a month ago.

It’s also just the way people work. Our models are static and only show lines doing one thing. People react to a changing environment. We’re quite sure that no one wants to go back into a state-wide mandated lockdown so it is likely that voluntary compliance with social distancing will be higher in May than it was in March. In the US we had 40 cases March 1st, and 4,902 by March 15th. [2] We don’t expect to see jumps that high, but in large part, because people believe that it will happen now.

You could sum up our thoughts as this: we are equally confident that we’ll come out of lockdown and that we’ll mess it up in the process. And we’ll get through it.

Get In Touch

Need help thinking this through? Access to more data? Help getting your technology in order to handle what’s here and what’s coming? Contact us today.

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

[1] Dr. Pearcy of TDH today said that number was closer to 2.5 or 2.6.

[2] TN had 52 cases on March 16th and 2,683 on April 1st for a comparison.

Some of our data has changed notably from yesterday’s post. Specifically, yesterday had data lagging when we were making the charts and today we have current numbers (today’s) in, which typically lag 24-48 hours.

Also, it is common that some days show greater increases than others, based on when testing is available and reported back. It’s another reason we post primarily in graphic form, so you can visually identify the trend above any given day or week of data.

Numbers

Yesterday we said we were at four days of decline. Unfortunately, with updated data that is no longer the case. New York is showing a large increase today, of the 30,000 odd new cases today New York is 11,000 of them.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

Deaths are also up. NY, NJ, CT, MI and MA make up 2/3rds of the new deaths so far today.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

For context, we’re still tracking between the lower estimate and mean estimate from the March 27th IMHE model.

Looking at just Tennessee the data shows a downward trend over the whole month but the last week is about even. Tennessee is about to massively expand testing efforts (see below). If successful you can expect to see these new cases continue to rise. If that happens, it is likely the result of more testing, not a faster rise in new cases.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

The Knoxville area continues to see a slow growth in cases:

Source: Data from The New York Times; Chart by JM Addington

Knox County is still the bulk of the area cases, and you can see that growth in new cases hasn’t changed notably since April 9th. Today, Dr. Buchanan was finally able to say, ” “We’re beginning to flatten the curve.”

Source: Knox County Health Department

News

Some of us got our personal stimulus funds today, it appears that those are widely rolling out for those with bank account numbers on file with the IRS.

The Paycheck Protection Program is widely expected to be out of funds today. Our take: it doesn’t matter, too much. No one we know has received funds yet and Congress will most likely approve an increase in funds. However, Congress is effectively in recess right now until May 4th. [1] So, it will be at least three weeks before more funds are appropriated.

Germany is beginning to lay out plans to lift lockdown. The EU announced advice on how to relax quarantines, which looks a lot like Tennesse’s (see below).

ABC News has a story about 100 cases and 44 deaths at a veteran’s long-term care facility in Massachusetts. The risk in these populations is extreme: people in LTC facilities typically are older and have underlying health conditions. Spain and Italy both had significant issues in keeping residents of such facilities safe from the COVID-19.

Science magazine has a paper from Harvard that says we may need to social distance into 2022. The authors include Marc Lipsitch, one of the world’s leading epidemiologists. We’ve written the same thing. This doesn’t mean we are at home for 2 years, it means that it is not business as usual for 2 years.

To avoid [exceeding critical care capacity], prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022.

Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period

New York City has begun to report probable COVID-19 deaths. These are tracked separately but help to show, (1) the real scale of the outbreak in NYC, and (2) the difference between testing and reality.

Our take: the probable number looks better than expected. Some thought that testing could be off by a factor of 10.

Some rough math: NY state has about a 5% case fatality rate (1/20), if we take NYC’s confirmed+probable deaths (10,900) and multiply by 20 we end up with just over 200,000 cases, compared to the 111,000 confirmed cases.

Don’t do anything sciencey with that or assume you can extrapolate to other states. It is simply an exercise that gives us some rough estimates of where confirmed cases are (which we know we undercount) compared to actual cases (which is unknowable).

Source: Screenshot from New York City Department of Health Confirmed and Probable COVID-19 Deaths: Daily Report

More importantly: use the confirmed+probable to understand the scope of the tragedy and situation.

Tennessee

Governor Lee officially recommended today that schools stay closed through the end of the year but declined to make it an order. Education Commissioner Schwinn said, ” “We will open schools next year and students will enter their new grades.”

Tennessee is going to expand its testing efforts, testing more people and testing more broadly. 15 drive-through sites will be run by the National Guard this weekend, you can find ta full list of weekend testing sites here. Find test sites for Knox County here.

Dr. Pearcy also promised that tests would be free, we think she meant department of health and drive-through tests, private providers can still charge.

If you think you need a test, we will test you.

Dr. Pearcy from TN Department of Health

Governor Lee was asked if the state would be open May 1st:

“We are waiting on the recommendations. That’s our goal, to open in May… that depends on the recommendations of the health care community, the business community… the most important thing is Tennesseans’ lives are protected and safe.”

“Tennesseans have been incredibly responsive to the [guidance] out there… It’s working, our curve has flattened. We need more confirmation of those numbers in the right direction, that haven’t been turned downward… we need some of those hospitalization numbers to not only stabilize but turn downwards.

Governer Lee, April 15th, 2020 media briefing

This is the most specific we’ve heard him be so far.

The Tennessee Department of Health also promised to step up contact tracing, the process of tracking down anyone that has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Dr. Pearcy plans to hire another 150 people to work on this. For some context, Ars Technica says that there are only 2,200 people doing contact tracing in the US right now. Massachusetts is trying to hire 1,000 people for this right now.

Testing and tracing is essentially the plan we’ve seen followed by places such as Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, all of which have been more successful than most western countries in fighting COVID-19. Also, to be clear, social distancing doesn’t go away with this: it is something of a compromise between a lockdown and full-open. The testing and tracing plan is also the backbone of a number of other plans to re-open the US economy. There is skepticism from some corners that it is possible at the scale we need it at. We’re not epidemiologists, so we are just going to note that those disagreements exist.

Economics

To add some more color to what we wrote yesterday, Goldman Sachs is predicting that the economic downturn will be the worst in history, while the upturn will be the best. That sounds sensationalist in one regard, to us IT folks it sounds a lot like, “we turned it off and back on again.”

The Wall Street Journal has an article via MSN about how layoffs are affecting white-collar workers. We mention it here to reduce surprise: of course, there are going to be layoffs in virtually every sector of the economy. This is the natural result of asking pretty much everyone to stay at home and stop working. It doesn’t mean that those jobs will not come back.

We mentioned yesterday that the IMF is predicting the greatest recession since the Great Depression. Today, Axios reports that is the optimistic version:

The coronavirus pandemic will bring about the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the IMF predicted Tuesday in its latest World Economic Outlook — and that is its optimistic outlook.

Axios

For the first time since the Great Depression both advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies are in recession. For this year, growth in advanced economies is projected at -6.1 percent… Income per capita is projected to shrink for over 170 countries. Both advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies are expected to partially recover in 2021.

IMF

We share this so you can plan, see yesterday’s post.

A 3% contraction will be painful. a 6% contraction would feel absolutely awful. A lot of jobs are going to be gone.

And yet, even a 10% reduction in US GDP per capita leaves us above 2010 levels [2]. The balance is understanding that life will get worse and we think — right now — we’re not headed for the dustbowl. Even the much worse 1918 influenza left the economy in place. We’d have to destroy it ourselves a few years later.

US GDP per Capita, 1947 – 2019

Source: The Federal Reserve of St. Louis (FRED)

Finally, we could be wrong on all of this. There really isn’t a precedent to compare to. However, we’ll continue to give you what we believe are the most balanced takes available.

Get In Touch

Need help thinking this through? Access to more data? Help getting your technology in order to handle what’s here and what’s coming? Contact us today.

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

[1] The Senate is not fully recessed, holding pro forma sessions in which nothing gets done, or is supposed to, but prevents the President from making recess appointments.

[2] Income equality, which has risen recently, in the US, however, means that people will feel this drop very differently. That is a different post.

Today we’re going to briefly hit the numbers at the national, state, regional and county level, hit a couple of news items and then spend a little bit of time talking economics.

Numbers

Nationally, we are looking at a fourth straight day of a decline in new cases. Today is not shown yet but it is looking to be another day with fewer new cases than yesterday. We have horizontal lines showing the 7-day average for new cases and the level as of March 15th, a date we’ve chosen because it seems to be about the time the public realized that COVID-19 was going to be an issue.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

New US deaths is down three of the last four days but probably up today, with over 1800 new deaths reported so far. This is, of course, the metric that matters the most: we’re more concerned with the number of people dying from COVID-19 than who are sick. Deaths lag cases. Also, keep in mind that (1) we need more than 4 days of data to call it a real trend either way, and (2) we’re really looking at both new deaths and new cases together to determine which way things are going.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

New Jersey is up to 65,000 cases, making up over 10% of the US total.

Looking at just Tennessee the data shows a downward trend over the whole month but the last week is about even:

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

We’ll note that the data we have above is substantially different than what the TN Department of Health shows, however, our new case data totals are about the same as what the state is reporting, we conclude that the state reports new cases on a lag.

Tennessee has 10 long term living facilities that report at least two cases between staff and residents. Three in Franklin, two in Gallatin, and one in each Nashville, Knoxville (Williamsburg Villas), Lafayette, Cookeville and Memphis.

The Knoxville area continues to see a slow growth in cases:

Source:Data from the New York Times, Chart by JM Addington

Knox County is still the bulk of the area cases, and you can see that growth in new cases hasn’t changed notably since April 9th:

Screenshot from KCHD

Data from Unacast and Google show social distancing to be pretty much leveled off in the state, including Knox County. It will be interesting to see if new cases per day continue to drop over the month if social distancing stays at its current level. The most interesting question, to us, is how will people react come May 1st if new cases are constant, regardless of plans to re-open?

Neither the county nor the state have briefings online right now (5 PM EST). It’s not clear why.

You can find a map of places to get tested for COVID-19 here.

Knox County released a phased in plan for restarting the economy. The county health department has called it a draft, stating, “The draft proposal was created by Mayor Jacobs in direct response to a request from Governor Lee who asked city and county mayors from across the state for their thoughts regarding a phased re-opening.”

Screenshot from KCHD

News

We personally know people that have the stimulus hitting their accounts. No word on actual PPP funds hitting accounts, other than some owners who have received fraction and believe that their bank simply advanced the money. Multiple states are announcing their plans to re-open, starting with California. However, timelines are not part of the plans yet.

Economics

JP Morgan is predicting, “a fairly severe recession,” unemployment claims have topped 13 million in three weeks with more expected, the IMF has said that they expect a recession far worse than the 2008 financial crisis.

So, is the economic world ending?

First, no one knows. There isn’t a playbook for turning the world economy off and back on again. The closest thing to COVID-19 economic data we have is China, a country still officially communist. The Federal Reserve has made a good case that this recession will look more like one that follows an awful hurricane than a typical recession.

It is an analysis that we agree with, to date. First, a typical recession comes slowly, it often isn’t clear in the moment what is driving it and there are underlying economic problems that took years to build up and take years to fix. The COVID-19 recession came suddenly and with clarity. The massive job losses you see are businesses acting quickly to preserve themselves and future job capacity. Your local retailer or restaurant may have laid off staff today but if they still exist in July (some) jobs can return.

In a typical recession, businesses all grab for the money at once to preserve their capital. Today, businesses are acutely aware that if everyone acts that way that their own customer base will implode, with their business along with it. Practically: if Wells Fargo didn’t let people defer mortgages they would have a bankruptcy problem in 90 days that far outweighs the cost of mortgage deferments. The same is true with rent, credit cards, etc. We aren’t saying that no one will act this way, but broadly, industry understands that dropping the hammer will cost the one who dropped it as much as the one it lands on.

The federal government has also reacted with breathtaking speed (for the federal government). The Paycheck Protection Program, the stimulus checks and several other actions by the federal reserve have been reactions that in the past would have been done in months or years, not weeks.

All of this is to say that the coming recession looks a lot, lot different than anything else we’ve gone through in the modern economy. It is entirely possible that things will turn up much faster than other recessions.

It is also true that this will cut deeper in many areas, and a “return” is measured in months and not weeks.

The President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atalanta said today that the recovery could begin in the third quarter, and we think that is the optimistic view.

Unemployment will get worse before it gets better, and will only slowly get better. We could be at double digit unemployment for most, or all, of 2020. Hotels, restaurants, concerts, churches, retail, etc., cannot get back to normal until COVID-19 is virtually gone, and that is an 18-24 month horizon. It is likely that travel restrictions stay in place for months.

And we don’t have time today to touch on industries like airlines, tourism, cruises, amusement parks, etc.

It’s going to be a rough ride for a while.

As your author and business owner, I am still supremely confident that we will get through this. The recessions that stay with us have been ones that we made, the storms that have come upon us have passed, and we’ve recovered from.

How Your Author is Adjusting

Let me get personal with you for a little bit. I assume that our family’s personal income will be down by at least 25% for a while, maybe this whole year. The stimulus will help us more than most (we have 8 children). We’ve managed to cut personal expenses by 25% and I believe we can keep them cut at that level for the rest of 2020.

Any cash that we are able to save and keep on hand, we are. It’s possible that some of it, maybe a lot of it, will go back into the business.

Instead of going out, my wife and I have spent the last several Fridays perfecting our stir-frying together.

Fun and nice groceries are mostly out right now, we buy essentials. We ate a lot of rice and beans before, now we eat more. We’ve switched over our youngest baby to cloth diapers we already had.

I don’t know yet if my seven year old will return to gymnastics this year.

I’m spending a lot more time working than I was a month ago, not less.

And, finally, no one ever sets the thermostat more expensive than it needs to be.

JM Addington Stir Fry Solutions

And it’s all going to be alright. 2020 and 2021 are not going to look like what I had pictured and that is OK. We’ve created safe spots at work and at home for many and, Lord willing, will continue to grow those spaces to include more people.

Get In Touch

Need help thinking this through? Access to more data? Help getting your technology in order to handle what’s here and what’s coming? Contact us today.

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

Governor Lee just finished his daily media briefing during which he stated two important things:

  1. He will extend the stay-at-home order through April 30th
  2. He plans to re-open the economy in May, presumably May 1st.

Let’s dig into #2 a little bit.

This does not mean an end to social distancing. A point we’ve made a few times.

Social distancing will be a way of life for Tennesseans [until we have a vaccine]

Governor Bill Lee

Six feet apart is going to remain the name of the game for the foreseeable future, as in until we have a vaccine. What we have been doing is to halt a pandemic, but that doesn’t get rid of the underlying virus.

The bottom line is, that staying at least six feet away from other people makes it very hard for this disease to be transmitted. We have to continue social distancing in public even as certain restrictions are relaxed.

Governor Bill Lee

Before the stay-at-home executive orders there were already limits on gatherings of large numbers of people. Restaurants were already limited to takeout/delivery, gyms were closed and nursing homes were closed to visitors. (Executive Order 17, March 22) Non-essential medical care had been suspended (Executive Order 18, March 23), barbershops, nail salons, bowling alleys, etc., etc., were also closed (Executive Order 21, March 30).

Beginning in May, we begin a phased reboot of our economy. Between now and then, we’ll create industry-specific guidance so that businesses can be fully prepared to operate safely and to protect their employees and their customers.

Governor Bill Lee

“Re-opening the economy” does not mean we go back to normal.

Lee made sure that he left a lot of room to define what re-opening the economy would be mean.

Defeating this disease once and for all requires specific advances, scientific advances, that are many months away. But until that time, we have to find new ways of living our lives and operating our businesses that will allow us to function as safely as possible while balancing a number of goals that sometimes may be in conflict.

Governor Bill Lee

On May 1st we will have a lot of plans. At the state level, the county level, the city level, the organizational level, and the personal level. However, the reality of the virus will drive the reality of the implementation of our collective plans. We believe that Governor Lee recognizes this, and that today’s speech was more about laying down a marker for when something would change, not about when everything will change.

Rough transcript of initial remarks

This is your author’s rushed transcript of Governor Lee’s remarks as a state-released transcript was not readily available to us.

We’re not out of the woods yet, and it could be some time. But it is clear that the actions we’ve taken at the state, combined with the local level, most importantly with the determination of our citizens and the bravery of our first responders and our healthcare workers on the front lines, those efforts have saved countless lives across Tenessee. And for that we are thankful.

However, until a treatment is widely available, we have to remain vigilant to incorporate social distancing and good hygiene in our daily routines or we have a very serious risk that this disease will come roaring back ad erase all the progress we’ve made to date. Until a vaccine or a therapy is widely available to Tennesseans this virus will be a present reality to us for us to manage and consider whenever we’re making decisions.

However, its clear that our economy cannot stay shut down for months on end. So we’re left with a clear but complicated task: we have to re-imagine how to conduct business and a society so that we can operate our economy safely and confidently while continuing to suppress the spread of COVID-19.

We need Tennesseans to go back to work. But we also need everyone to recognize that physical distancing must continue for the foreseeable future. Unemployment claims have been 25 times their normal rate, with more than 250,000 initial claims in the last three weeks.

In cooperation with guidance from the White House, we’ll extend our stay-at-home order until April 30th and plan to begin reopening our economy in May. Until that time, our unified command team will continue to consult with experts, analyze all the available data and monitor CDC recommendations for the remainder of this month.

Beginning in May, we begin a phased reboot of our economy. Between now and then, we’ll create industry-specific guidance so that businesses can be fully prepared to operate safely and to protect their employees and their customers.

In early March, I started work with industry leaders to understand how businesses would be impacted during this pandemic. We pulled together an advisory council that includes leaders from the Tennessee chamber, hospitality, transportation, and the grocery industries to ensure that we kept a close watch on the health of our state’s economy. While these early efforts have helped us to stay informed its time to move to a planning and implementation phase.

I’m formalizing an economic recovery group, to be led by tourism commissioner Mark Ezell, that will work in coordination with legislative leadership, local mayors, health care professionals and representatives of impacted industries. By formalizing an economic recovery specific group, this will ensure that the unified command group will continue their focused effort on disease management, improving hospital and testing capacity and increasing our PPE supply chain. Unified command group will also be making recommendations to me about exactly when and how to begin our phased-in reopening of our economy.

Defeating this disease once and for all requires specific advances, scientific advances, that are many months away. But until that time, we have to find new ways of living our lives and operating our businesses that will allow us to function as safely as possible while balancing a number of goals that sometimes may be in conflict.

Our economy cannot operate normally until these advances are made, and yet, an open-ended economic shutdown is unsustainable for Tennessee families. The middle ground will create some discomfort, but more than every Tennesseans must come together to keep each other safe by taking concrete actions and establishing new routines. The bottom line is, that staying at least six feet away from other people makes it very hard for this disease to be transmitted. We have to continue social distancing in public even as certain restrictions are relaxed.

We also want to strongly encourage the simple things, wearing cloth masks in public, touch as few common surfaces as you can, wash your hands frequently throughout the day. Most importantly, stay home if you are sick or symptomatic. And get tested if you believe you have COVID symptoms or if you have been exposed to any who have. These precautions are for everyone., And the elderly or those with underlying conditions will need to take even further precautions.

More details regarding our new normal will be released in the coming days, but I implore Tennesseans to stay consistent in your efforts to flatten the curve. Our ability to successfully relaunch our economy requires every Tennesseans to step up and adopt new habits.

Today is mostly a summary type of day. We have may have a second update later in the day if significant news comes out, especially from the TN daily briefing.

All in all, new cases are going down but lots of small problems are popping up. Welcome to the beginning of the new normal.

As a whole, new cases and deaths in the US are both down with about 29,000 new cases yesterday. For comparison, on March 22nd we had about 32,000 cases in the US in total. So, the good news is that adding as many cases as we had in a single day three weeks ago is better than where we were last week.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington
Source: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

New York continues to completely dominate US cases.

If you take out NY & NJ you get a much more even distribution of cases across the US:

Source: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

We think that there are two ways that you can read this data. First, the outbreak in New York makes the situation there different than in the rest of the county as a whole. Second, it’s still clear that there are other majors areas at risk for outbreaks.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

If you break down those totals MA new cases are going up, MI is stable, PA is down three days in a row in cases but not deaths, IL is trending up, LA and FL are trending down. The point is that there isn’t an even response to COVID-19 across the US. We’d also like to note that one of the world’s leading epidemiologists recently stated that he doesn’t even trust the data unless there are at least ten days of trend behind it.

To give you another way to visualize it, here are new cases and new deaths by day across the US, with horizontal lines representing the levels at specific days. The purple one that lies just over the X-axis is 780 new cases/day, where we last were at on March 15th, which was one to two weeks before shelter-in-place orders became commons across the US. We’ve got a long way to drop.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

East Tennessee & Knox County Numbers

New cases in Knox County are leveling off. To put that in context, they are around where we were at when the Knox County Safer at Home order went into place. We assume that the county wants to see cases below that point before re-opening.

KHCD also released a zip-code based map of cases, based on symptoms that were present as of April 4th. That’s 37919 highlighted. Dr. Buchanan of the Knox County Health Department said that it wasn’t clear if the differences in zip codes were due to differences in cases or availability of testing. Zipcodes with fewer than five cases are not identified due to privacy concerns.

The New York Times data, which doesn’t track with local data exactly (the state data also doesn’t always track with local data) show the nine-county region somewhere between stabilizing and living off in new cases.

As always, take a few days worth of data with a grain of salt. (See Dr. Buchanan’s remarks on this specifically below.)

Source: The New York Times; Chart by JM Addington

Notable Tennessee News

At today’s KCHD briefing Dr. Buchanan stated that she and Mayor Jacobs were not ready to limit the restrictions on travel and social distancing if Governor Lee allows his executive orders to expire (tomorrow at 11:59 PM). To consider lifting these restrictions KHCD would want to see a trend, more than a couple days of data.

“Where are we on the curve? That’s easy, we’re at the beginning. We’re still on the upslope of the curve… We need to see that for several days. One day of fewer cases does not mean that we flatten the curve, at all.”

Dr. Buchanan, April 13th, 2020 KHCD daily briefing

To get a test locally, the county has expanded qualifying symptoms to include loss of smell, loss of taste and “some GI symptoms,” beyond the more typical flu-like symptoms. KHCD is also prioritizing people at highest risk for complications, such as those with chronic medical conditions or healthcare workers that can’t otherwise be tested. Results from KHCD are currently being turned around in 3-4 days.

Mayor Indya Kincannon signed an extension of the City of Knoxville’s Safer at Home Order.

An employee at Target North in Knoxville was found to be positive with COVID-19. Given that, (1) most people are contentious before they are symptomatic (a 5-7 day lag), and (2) you can’t get tested without being symptomatic in most cases it seems likely that we’ll see some more cases come out of this.

19 staff cases of COVID-19 were found at two Tennessee correctional facilities. On Thursday during the TN daily briefing, it was announced that there would be mass testing at these two facilities, of staff only. The decision to test staff only is puzzling to us, given the lag in symptoms and confirmed cases we just mentioned we don’t understand how the offender population wouldn’t have cases as well. The state is issuing cloth masks, which haven’t been shown to be effective.

A Tyson plant just north of Nashville is being investigated for a possible outbreak of cases, no updates have been posted on this since Friday.

US Testing

US testing remains on a pretty much a straight line, i.e., we are not ramping up testing. The chemicals needed to run the tests are in short supply. That means we can’t expect to see the number of new tests per day increase until we figure out how to increase the supply chain.

Also, as Dr. Osterholm notes, many of the “re-opening” plans rely on widespread testing. There isn’t any evidence that we can actually accomplish wide-spread testing, right now.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

The turn around time of the tests is also a major concern. As Bill Gates noted on CNBC’s Squawk Box, the test results are most valuable within the first 24 hours of the test. The longer you take to test the more you’ve allowed the virus to spread.

Any time the queue [test result time] is over 24 hours that’s complete mismangement because the value of the result is far less worthwhile… the best case is [the test] goes positive before you’re symptomatic or infections; and then you can act in such a way that don’t infect anyone else.

Bill Gates, Squawk Box, April 9th, 2020

The Food Supply Chain

A fantastic article on Medium explained how the toilet paper shortage is more about supply chains than hoarding. In short, “the average household will use 40% more toilet paper than usual [at home],” under social distancing. The single-ply toilet paper you have at your office, hotel, conference center, etc., literally comes from different factories and they can’t just flip a switch to make the double-ply stuff you buy at Kroger instead. We believe that this insight explains a lot of empty shelves at grocery stores, beyond TP.

Indeed, there are multiple reports about the disruptions coming in the food supply chain. First, the supply chain needs to change. Restaurants and hotels don’t need nearly as much food as they did before, grocery stores and food shelves need lots more. But it’s more complicated than just changing where trucks deliver their goods, the type of food changes as well. Second, slowing immigration (due to COVID-19) will make it difficult to let in the immigrants who come to harvest our crops.

Third, the factories that produce our food — especially meat — have to cope with COVID-19 as well, and they simply aren’t set-up for social distancing. 5% of pork production in the US was cut today with the idling of a single plant. Fourth, there are inter-dependencies that are not well-understood outside the food industry. One expert told us about how cutting sports was going to affect animal feed:

So, there’s an ingredient called wheat middlings. It is essentially the leftover stuff after you make white flour. White flour is used mainly in hotdog and hamburger buns, which aren’t being eaten at the same rate because sporting events are closed. Same with restaurants. First thing you get on the table is bread. We aren’t eating as much as a nation. These wheat middling are used in most animal feed as an energy source as well as a pellet binder (The feed usually comes in pellet form.)

No baseball, no buns, no flour mills making white flour, no middlings.

We’ve personally seen this, where local grocery stores are out of essentials (flour, meat, toilet paper, etc.) it is still available to us from the commercial supply chain.

What Does it Mean to Re-Open?

We released our own whitepaper on what we believe next few weeks will look like, to be clear, there will only be a new normal for months not a return to old normal. Vox.com reviewed four of the re-opening plans and summarized them all:

…there is no normal for the foreseeable future. Until there’s a vaccine, the United States either needs economically ruinous levels of social distancing, a digital surveillance state of shocking size and scope, or a mass testing apparatus of even more shocking size and intrusiveness. […] All of them then imagine a phase two, which relaxes — but does not end — social distancing while implementing testing and surveillance on a mass scale. This is where you must begin imagining the almost unimaginable.

Ezra Klein, Vox.com

Axios has their own summary which reads a lot like our own, “The future will come in waves — waves of recovery, waves of more bad news, and waves of returning to some semblance of normal life.”

You need to be seriously considering how your business, non-profit, family will operating inside this new normal. We’ll get through this, but getting through it successfully will require planning and effort.

Financial

IRS Stimulus Check Registration Tool: read about it on Forbes, you probably don’t need to use it.

BlueCross of Tennessee sent us an email stating that they are waiving all member costs for COVID-19 treatment:

As part of our mission to serve your employees, we’re removing their barriers to receiving care. From now until May 31, 2020, we’ll waive member cost sharing for COVID-19 treatments, including hospitalizations.

If your employee or one of their dependents is diagnosed with COVID-19, they won’t pay out-of-pocket costs for treatment from in-network providers, including inpatient treatment.

BlueCross of Tennessee

International

Spain is lifting its strictest two-week lockdown. “That means that the majority of the population of Spain remain in their homes – schools, bars, restaurants, cultural venues and leisure centers all remain closed – but the economic activity that was halted with the hibernation decree will restart.”

Singapore, a country that has done very well to date, is under a partial lockdown as its cases jump.

The South China Morning Post reports that “China is taking extra measures to stem the influx of imported cases of coronavirus, particularly from Russia after a small border city reported a dramatic jump in new cases among arrivals.”

Cloth Masks: A Brief Side Note

Earlier we alluded to a paper in the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that said, “The current level of benefit [of wearing cloth masks], if any, is not possible to assess.” In large part, because there are very few studies done on the effectiveness of cloth masks, especially homemade ones. We will, for now, continue to use them out in public. However, there are two important caveats, (1) any benefit from cloth masks are to the public, not the wearer (it doesn’t protect the wearer), (2) it’s not a public policy response.

How JM Addington is Adjusting

Our thoughts and plans are shifted towards June and July. We believe that our financials are sound enough that we can bear front wave of the storm. The next part, learning to operate in our new normal will take more careful planning:

  • How do we keep our team safe?
  • How do we keep our customers safe?
  • What new services from us are our customers going to need?
  • Which if our customers are going to be negatively affected in 90 days? Which will see an uptake in business?
  • How is the competitive landscape going to change? Will price matter more in an economic downturn, or provider capacity to respond quickly and turn on a dime?

These are some of the questions we’re grappling with right now.

Get In Touch

Need help thinking this through? Access to more data? Help getting your technology in order to handle what’s here and what’s coming? Contact us today.

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

See the Data

We are releasing the backbone of the graphs we’ve been using, a Microsoft Power BI Report linked to data from The COVID Tracking Project, The New York Times, TN Department of Health and some of our own calculations of those data. It’s much better on a computer or tablet than a phone.

We update the data when we can, typically the NYT updates around 11 AM EST and CTP updates after 5 PM EST. We then import the data and re-upload it to the report.

Thank you to those beta tested this for us and gave us early feedback.

Nationwide, new cases and new deaths are both set to be down or steady for the third day in a row. We’ve talked a lot about the issues with the quality of the data (it’s not great). At JM Addington we focus on the trends of the data and we’re optimistic that we are seeing both of those headed in the downward direction.

The data currently supports the IMHE model (on a national scale) that COVID-19 is peaking in the next week.

Tennessee is up to 4,600 cases and 94 deaths, a 2% mortality rate of known cases. The new cases and deaths are both up compared to yesterday. By comparison and warning, New York added 10,000 cases and nearly 800 deaths yesterday.

New York alone has more cases than the next highest country, Spain. New Jersey would be 10th on that list, if US States were counted as countries.

If you compare Tennessee directly to New York you almost can’t separate TN from the X-Axis.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

And that would be true of most states. NY, NJ and MI make up half of the total cases in the US. LA, CA, MA, PA, FL, and IL all have more than 10,000 but less than 20,000 cases.

The significance to us is twofold: first, COVID-19 is playing out so differently in different parts of the US that they are almost different worlds. The reporting doesn’t always make that clear, but for most of us, COVID-19 isn’t what is shown on the news.

At the same time, it’s cautionary that it can get a lot worse. This is how exponential growth works, if you stop something doubling at say, 100 cases, it makes a huge difference compared to stopping the doubling at 1,000 cases.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart by JM Addington

Tennessee

Tennessee’s board of education voted on new rules that drop credits for graduating seniors. Students cannot have grades lowered during distance learning, but they can increase. It’s not official until the Attorney General official approves of it. The TN Department of Education (TDOE) requested public feedback by end of day Monday on how to spend dollars earmarked for education from the CARES Act. This money won’t arrive soon: the feds won’t take the state applications until at least mid-April.

TDOE has also partnered with PBS to release 30 hours of educational programming for students in 1st – 8th grade. You can find the schedule here and their YouTube channel here. They have even released student packets and teacher lesson plans for parents.

During today’s conference call with reporters Governor Lee declined to give a date that he decide whether or not to renew his stay-at-home executive order, “data changes quickly,” he said. That order remains in place through the end of Tuesday, April 14th, currently. During the call Lee also expressed that the state continues to plan for a surge of COVID-19 cases, although the timing and size of that surge was unknown.

Vanderbilt is expected to release a model specifically for Tennessee tomorrow. There has been some early reporting on it but no details until Friday.

Yesterday Lee issued executive order 25 which explicitly bars dental clinics (and related fields) from any non-emergency procedures, requires the postponement all of elective procedures, and, “encourages,” non-hospital healthcare workers to donate their PPE to the state. This order merely makes official much of what has already been done voluntarily.

Financial

We know some business owners who have been officially approved by their banks for the PPP loans. No one has seen money hit their bank account yet.

While we were writing this update we approved for the PPP, “awaiting instructions on funding.”

The president, as we write, is announcing new loans for larger businesses and work on increasing the funding available for the PPP loan. The PPP loan initially had $350bn behind it, which is widely expected to run out.

BlueCross of Tennessee sent us an email stating that they are waiving all member costs for COVID-19 treatment:

As part of our mission to serve your employees, we’re removing their barriers to receiving care. From now until May 31, 2020, we’ll waive member cost sharing for COVID-19 treatments, including hospitalizations.

If your employee or one of their dependents is diagnosed with COVID-19, they won’t pay out-of-pocket costs for treatment from in-network providers, including inpatient treatment.

BlueCross of Tennessee

International

Italy clearly has a hold on this, a great sign for the rest of the world. There is a long way to go, but things are headed where they need to be.

Source: Worldometers
Source: Worldometers

Spain made progress and then plateaued:

Source: Worldometers
Source: Worldometers

Both German and French data are noisy. New cases and new deaths aren’t moving together as clearly as Italy and Spain.

Get In Touch

Need help thinking this through? Access to more data? Help getting your technology in order to handle what’s here and what’s coming? Contact us today.

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

Newswise there is very little to report today. To sum up the rest of this update: things look pretty much like they did yesterday.

Both new cases and new deaths have decreased in the US today. They are both so small we’d read them more like “holding steady” than dropped.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; chart by JM Addington
Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; chart by JM Addington

Similarly, Tennessee is down in cases but remains just a smidge below the 7-day average of 240 new cases/day.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project; chart by JM Addington

Knox County and the surrounding area continue to be mixed news. Absolute cases and deaths are low but growth remains relatively constant.

Source: Data from The New York Times; chart by JM Addington
Source: Data from The New York Times; chart by JM Addington

On the whole, the 3/27 projections from the IMHE seem to be about on track for deaths, which we use as a proxy for the trend in the US as a whole.

Source: Data from The COVID Tracking Project and IMHE; Chart by JM Addington

Questions on the Models

There are some legitimate questions on the models, especially IMHE’s. On the one hand, they’ve been some of the most transparent about the process and their data allowing anyone to download it and run comparisons. On the other hand, their predictions on hospitalizations have been so much higher than data we can find we haven’t reported on it because we were afraid we misunderstood the data. We’ve reached out to them but haven’t heard back.

Get In Touch

Need help thinking this through? Access to more data? Help getting your technology in order to handle what’s here and what’s coming? Contact us today.

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

[1] Executive Order 22 references this CISA guidance.

We’re working on putting together an interactive report so you can jump into this data on your own.

If you want to preview this interactive report and give us feedback please email Jonathan.addington@jmaddington.com

Tennessee: One Week Left of Stay-at-Home. Maybe.

Bill Lee’s Executive Orders 22 and 23 are keeping many Tennesseans home and businesses closed. April 14th is the last day that they are in effect and so far Goveneror Lee has indicated that he doesn’t plan to extend the orders. On the day he signed executive order 22 (March 30th) Tennessee reported 297 new cases of COVID-19 and 6 new deaths resulting from COVID-19.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project; charts by JM Addington

Since that time we’ve seen cases increase from 1,834 to 4,138 and deaths from 13 to 72. Governor Lee also cited what we believe are the same projections we have been tracking, updated versions showing Tennessee with fewer deaths than previous projections.

The expiration of those orders, however, also comes at the peak projected date for COVID-19 in Tennessee.

Our continued belief is that the virus will drive timelines not the will of policymakers. With 366 new cases in Tennessee today, it will the third largest increase since March 31st. If new cases drop back down to pre-March 30th levels we may see those orders expire. However, it will be a difficult position for Lee to defend if deaths and new cases are still above the level of when he originally put the order in place.

Source: IMHE 04/05 COVID-19 death projections for TN vs actual deaths (The COVID Tracking Project); chart by JM Addington

This issue is a hot topic in Tennessee because only six of the states 95 counties have the authority to issue stay-home-orders themselves (Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby and Sullivan). Even counties with cases higher than Knox county (Williamson, Sumner, Rutherford) can’t independently make people stay home, they rely on the state government to do so.

But it Doesn’t Matter

(The following departs from our data-driven reporting. It is, however, the way we view the next months unfolding and represent how we will plan)

However, we don’t believe that the legalities will be a driver of when Tennesseans — or Americans more broadly — get back to work. First, the stay-at-home orders define essential businesses very broadly. There are 16 industries defined at the federal level with over a hundred examples of essential businesses [1]. Second, it is hard to imagine the public broadly returning to life as normal so long as COVID-19 is a perceived threat.

It is going to take 18-24 months to have COVID-19 under control. All of the social distancing that we have and are doing is to throw up a defensive wall against it. Bring the wall down and we let the virus back in. To effectively combat it we need either herd immunity (let most people get it) or a vaccine. We believe that successful organizations are going to plan for three distinct stages and implement them regardless of the legal environment.

Stage One: Lockdown. This is where we are today. The strategies employed are to maintain cash, preserve future options and for most businesses stay active however possible. This portion is likely to last a total of six weeks to twelve weeks. (So, for East Tennesse, this ends early May to early June).

Stage Two: A Partial Return. At this point, new cases per day and deaths per day will be back down to pre-pandemic levels, around where they were in early to mid-March in most of the United States. However, COVID-19 will still be circulating in the community and the public will be well aware of it. “Flu-like,” symptoms will send workers home for two weeks or until they test negative for COVID-19. A positive test in the workplace, religious institution, daycare and other organizations is likely to shut the physical place down for a few days up to a couple of weeks. Exposed staff, customers, congregants, etc., will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks or until they test negative for COVID-19.

The strategies employed during this period will two-fold. First, organizations will need to figure out how to mitigate risk:

  • Manufacturers may split staff in extra shifts so a case in one shift doesn’t close down the entire operation
  • Organizations may have employees work in “pods” to limit potential exposure
  • Retail stores may continue to limit physical store capacity
  • Companies may split employees between “work from home” and “work at the office” in rotating week-long shifts
  • Travel will be limited to necessary meetings only
  • There will be more video calls and phone calls than before COVID-19
  • Companies with high-risk employees or employees with high-risk family members may need to move into a low-exposure role
  • Churches, non-profits, after-school care will need to figure out how to reduce physical capacity while maintaining overall capacity
  • Companies with close working quarters will need to put up physical sneeze guards, clean more often, etc.
  • Companies may implement temperature checks at the door for employees and visitors alike

Underlying the above will be the understanding that an outbreak in a community (neighborhood, city, county) will still have the potential to send that community back into lockdown to get the outbreak under control.

Second, successful organizations will figure out how to serve a new set of needs:

  • Online services for churches are going to be with us for a long time, as high-risk congregants can’t go out
  • Curbside delivery, family meal packages from restaurants, etc., may become a new standard
  • Organizations will equip employees to safely interact with high-risk populations (house cleaning for grandma, grocery delivery, etc.)
  • Organizations may need to rely on flexible “work from home” policies to retain key staff that are high-risk or have high-risk family members
  • Cleaning services can offer deep-clean disinfection on a regular schedule
  • Multiple industries will need to set aside service hours — or days — for high-risk populations (salons, barbers, grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters)
  • Supply chains will continue to be different than they were pre-COVID-19 as some industries are up (consumer TP) and others are down (hotels)

There are no doubt many more needs that your industry will need to consider. You need to begin the planning process now for how you meet new needs while mitigating infectious risk at the same time.

The timeline for this partial return is 18-24 months and will likely be interrupted, but by locality and industry, and for shorter time periods than Stage 1.

Stage Three: A New Normal. At some point, we’ll have a working vaccine or herd immunity. At that point, there will be the potential for a “return to old normal.” Organizations that thrive at this point will come in two stripes: (1) those that will completely forgo the risk mitigations (and hence, costs) associated in dealing with COVID-19, and (2) those that will accurately measure their exposure to future risks as well as the public perception around it.

In the first group will be entrepreneurs who either don’t care or didn’t have to steer a ship through this current crisis. Because risk mitigation mitigates profits as well, there will be some of these. However, they will be in the minority.

Of the second set, organizations are going to have to know what strategies employed in Stage 2 are still effective, either from a customer perspective or an actual risk-mitigation perspective. At what point can grocery stores or restaurants go back to full capacity without endangering patrons? When do churches encourage all congregants to come back to Sunday services? You can’t just be guessing at this. Organizations that thrive will spend the next year setting objective milestones that determine when a particular strategy has become more hurtful than helpful.

This second set will also continue to plan for the next outbreak. We’ve all learned a lot in just a few short weeks. Early notice and preparation make all the difference. A flexible workforce can keep you going when the government shuts your office down. Cash cash cash cash. N-95 masks and hand sanitizer don’t go out of style. At a deeper level, these organizations will continue to have objective benchmarks that alert them when they need to pick a strategy back up again.

They will be ready to jump back into Stage Two, or Stage One for COVID-23 or whatever comes next.

They will have clear communications to staff, customers and vendors about what will trigger them to act, how, and when.

Stage Three won’t end. It will be our new normal.

Today, you should be spending as much time planning for Stage 2 as navigating through Stage 1.

Financial News

The Treasury Department is already working to get another $200 billion to fund small business loans. This week First Horizon Bank began taking applications, we’ve heard that Pinnacle and Smart Bank already had applications open. United Community Bank wrote in an email to customers:

…”at this time, the U.S. SBA has not released the SBA note to the banking community. We hope to receive that today, April 7, 2020, but will not fund approved loans until we have received the note from the SBA.”

United Community Bank

We only know a single business that has had their EIDL approved, but funds have not yet been received.

PPP Compensation Cap: There have been mixed messages whether the $100,000 cap was limited to compensation (pay) or total costs (pay+taxes+benefits). The Treasury’s official guidance is, “The $100,000 salary limitation does not include healthcare, retirement benefits, and state and local taxes.” Thanks to Mitch Reed (CPA) for sending that over.

Where Are We?

A week out from the peak there were a lot of deaths today in the US as a whole.

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Charts by JM Addington

Data: The COVID Tracking Project & IMHE; Charts by JM Addington
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Charts by JM Addington

New York State makes up half of those deaths. Tennessee is 11th on the list, although at 21 deaths to 599 it doesn’t seem comparable.

The Knox Area new cases chart (missing today’s data) still shows us close to where we want to be. Obviously see this go down would be better, however, it is reminiscent of Italy’s chart where there was a week of plateau before a clear down-trend.

Our hope is that we are at the beginning of that plateau here. It certainly is a more manageable number of cases than many other places around the country, or even the state. By comparison, Davidson County alone has over 800 cases.

Data: The New York Times; Charts by JM Addington

Estimates Trend

If we compare the IMHE various estimates we can see that their middle estimate is actually trending upward more quickly in the short term and then dropping more quickly as well. An upside-down V is how they are starting to shape out.

These models assume that social distancing occurs beyond April 14th.

Data: The COVID Tracking Project & IMHE; Charts by JM Addington

How JM Addington is Adjusting

Today we did something we never thought we would do and permanently lifted our credit freezes at all three major credit unions. Typically, these freezes are the best thing you can do to keep someone from stealing your financial identity. They can also stand in the way of getting financing.

We’ll turn them back on but it may be a few months.

We’re increasing cash on hand in the business and personally, and consolidating them at a single institution to make it easier to get credit going forward. Our personal taxes are in and we’re taking the refund instead of applying it to 2020 taxes.

Removing a credit freeze at TransUnion

Get In Touch

Need help thinking this through? Access to more data? Help getting your technology in order to handle what’s here and what’s coming? Contact us today.

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

[1] Executive Order 22 references this CISA guidance.

Today is an abbreviated update. We’re working on putting together an interactive report so you can jump into this data on your own.

If you want to preview this interactive report and give us feedback please email Jonathan.addington@jmaddington.com

Where are we on the curve?

About 9 days to peak (US whole) and new deaths per day coming in under the average estimate from IHME’s 03/27 projections. That is a good thing.

In fact, we’re getting closer to the lower estimate compared to the original projection.

This graph uses the 03/27 IMHE projections.

Source: Data from IMHE and COVID Tracking Project, chart by JM Addington
Source: Data from IMHE and COVID Tracking Project, chart by JM Addington

The newest projections from yesterday show that we are dipping even further under. (Of course, deaths are the same.)

Again, we don’t want deaths so we view this as a positive.

US new cases of COVID-19 and new deaths are both down from two days ago. We want to see more data before we call it a trend, however, with the, moving very similarily we are optimistic.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project; chart by JM Addington
Source: The COVID Tracking Project; chart by JM Addington

Tennessee is moving in the wrong direction as far as new cases go. Deaths (not shown) remain steady so it is possible that this is the case of more or better testing rather than an actual expansion of the epidemic.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project; chart by JM Addington
Source: The New York Times; Chart by JM Addington

New cases around Knox County continue to mostly flatten. Knox County cases are going to throw this off for the most recent day, but, again, that may be the result of better or more testing, especially with the drive-in testing centers over the weekend. Deaths in all of Tennessee remain very low.

International Numbers

Italy continues to right direction. To us, this is more significant than other European countries because (1) Italy was hardest it, if they can make the right progress we all can, (2) they didn’t social distance well at first, which candidly reflects the US, and (3) they have a more vulnerable population than most countries.

Deaths (not shown) continue to move in the correct direction as well

Source: Worldometers

Germany and Spain are both trending downward. France’s case data looks very noisy, its deaths are largely moving down since April 2nd.

How JM Addington is Adjusting

Financially it is becoming more apparent that we need to be self-reliant on capital in the short-term. While the EIDL and PPP loans may come through we aren’t planning on them to come through when we need the cash and we are creating other plans to cover potential shortfalls over that period.

Masks: we’ve ordered enough fabric and elastic to make enough masks for each employee to have at least two, one for wearing and one that can be washed.

The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong ran an “I told you so,” article on the mask topic. And, well, they did tell the world so. Hong Kong still has fewer cases than Idaho.

Your author has been wearing a fabric mask while in stores for the last two weeks. The goal is mitigation of risk not elimination of risk. Just like washing hands won’t guarantee anything it helps and its easy.

JM Addington’s President with his bandana shopping mask

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

Today is pretty much a mega-update. There are a lot of pieces of news that we think are important that we are going to cover today.

There are some things we are going to skip as well. US numbers today, TN numbers today. We want at least another day’s worth of data before presenting again.

Where are we on the curve?

About 10 days to peak (US whole) and new deaths per day coming in under the average estimate from IHME’s 03/27 projections. That is a good thing.

Source: Data from IMHE and COVID Tracking Project, chart by JM Addington

Tenessee is actually coming in well under the lower estimate. (Note, this model is newer than not he one in the previous graph).

That is, of course, mostly great news! We don’t want more deaths!

The question, of course, is why are we so far off the model? Did we social distance that well? (no). Is the model faulty at the state level? (maybe) Is our data on deaths off? (see below, maybe)

The uncertainty is especially problematic because it gives our policymakers (Lee, Jacobs, Kincannon, et. al.) less confidence in the data and projections they need to use to make useful decisions.

Source: Data from IMHE and COVID Tracking Project, chart by JM Addington

To JM Addington it also belays another point we’ve made: the data suggests that different localities are going to have very different experiences. To be transparent, we haven’t found an expert who shares our view. However, the data clearly indicates that Knoxville is not like Nasvhille is not like New York is not like Hong Kong.

Bill Gates thinks that the US death toll will probably come in under the White House’s 100,000 – 240,000 estimate, as long as the US continues to social distance. It is really important to realize that this is a direct trade-off, cut-off social distancing and the cases & deaths will rise. He rightly notes in this interview that what we do with tests matter more than the absolutely number. The US isn’t doing what it needs to be doing.

In a separate op-ed Gates expresses that he still thinks we have 10 weeks of social distancing left because we didn’t implement it correctly the first time. It’s worth the read if you have time.

Google has published a portal showing how different countries, states, and counties are practicing social distancing. It is likely that Google has the best data in the world on this. Tennessee’s numbers (below) line up with data from Unacast.

Knox County looks close to the same:

The reports are really easy to find, download and understand if you want to look up your city/county/state. So what? Early data indicates that there is about a two lag between implementing social distancing and seeing growth slow down. The data from Google and Unacast give us dates that people actually stopped going out, not just when the orders were handed down. For Knoxville, that date appears to be about March 20th.

We’ve talked a few times here about the importance of when we social distance and stop the case/death growth rate. On March 15th TN only had 7 new COVID-19 cases, on March 29th it was 164 new cases. We could have “flattened the curve” by implementing social distancing earlier on. At JM Addington — and thousands of other businesses around the state — this is especially important because the more cases we have the harder the economic impact will be.

Social distancing has already had an impact on our business and we think it will continue to have one. At the same time, we expect the virus to dictate the economic and policy outcomes. People are not going to rush back to theaters, restaurants, doctors’ offices, recreational activities, retail so long as there is the perception that it is or could be dangerous. Any state in the Union under lockdown could lift it today and lots of people are still going to stay home.

The piece that matters for both economic and medical healing is getting COVID-19 under control. And right now, social distancing is the most effective tool we have.

Does Social Distancing Work?

Short version: yes. Candidly, first, the physics of it work out really easily, if sick people aren’t close to well people they can’t infect them.

Second, all the experts we can find on record agree that it makes a real difference.

A couple of weeks ago we put out some simple exponential regressions showing how the US and TN were likely to increase in cases. They were not and are epidemiological models and you shouldn’t take them that way for a million reasons. However, they have an advantage in that there are no assumptions built in, just data.

Here are 10 regressions plotted on top of one another, the first has 21 days of data from March 4 through March 24, the second from March 5 through 25, and so on. Each regression continues past its end date to April the 12th.

Simple COVID-19 Exponential Regressions, by JM Addington\

It’s ok if the results aren’t clear to you. Before social distancing kicks in, the first trend shows over 16,000,000 million COVID-19 cases by April 12th. By the end regression, there are less than 5,000,000. For a bunch of reasons we don’t expect to see 5,000,000 cases in the next 7 days, the point is that even simple mathematical models can and do show the immediate impact of social distancing. You can repeat this using public data in your own copy of Excel if you desire. [1]

We can present it another way: while the absolute number of cases increases, the growth rate is decreasing. I.e., the speed at which COVID-19 is getting worse is slowing down.

The foot is easing off the accelerator. But at 120mph it still takes a minute to see the speedometer decrease.

Source: Regression data by JM Addington based off of COVID Tracking Project data.

Data Pains

In the last couple days there has been reporting of Italy significantly under-counting deaths from COVID-19, especially those that occur in nursing homes. The Washington Post has a similar article for the US. In the United States there is not a standard on how post-mortem testing.

The New York Times and Radio Free Asia both have articles that say China substantially under-reported cases and deaths in Wuhan. To be clear, sources from these two articles would be biased.

However, the implication for the rest of the world is that China’s 3.4% rate could be low, meaning that the number we thought was the worst-case scenario is higher.

Our view, is that for Western countries there is enough reliable data to come to our estimates. For the developing world, however, this is bad news.

The American intelligence about understated numbers predates recent reporting in the Chinese news media that the death count in Wuhan could be 5,000 or more, double the official number.

The New York Times

Social media users have been doing some basic math to figure out their daily capacity, while the news website Caixin.com reported that 5,000 urns had been delivered by a supplier to the Hankou Funeral Home in one day alone — double the official number of deaths.

Radio Free Asia

Long Term Care Facilities

WVLT ran a story late Thursday that 29 patients, 16 employees test positive for COVID-19 at a Cookeville long-term care facility. Minnesota, which has been very transparent in its COVID-19 handling, is reporting at least 30 longterm care facilities that have one or more cases. There have been some horrific news stories out of Italy and Spain around COVID-19 getting into nursing homes, to see the same in the US would be tragic.

Financial

TurboTax has created a portal to help you get your stimulus payments. Keep in mind that for most people that this will be a director deposit and not a check. The direct deposits are also likely to hit your account much faster than paper checks. Most Americans won’t need this service, including anyone who filed for 2018 or 2019 already. If you aren’t sure contact an accountant.


The PPP loans — the loans to be forgiven if used for payroll — are slow to roll out, where they are rolling out at all. As of Friday afternoon, the day they officially became available only $9b of the $350b had been applied for. JM Addington received two emails from our bank over the weekend basically asking for patience and stating that they were doing all that they could do.

We haven’t heard anything about the EIDL (disaster, 7b) loan we applied for since putting in our application. Nothing has popped up in our news feed and we don’t know anyone that has gotten it so far either.

Again, for reference, the last year we have data for the SBA processed 47,000 7a loans (the same type the PPP fall under). Presumably, any disaster loans issued were for “typical” disasters. There isn’t hard data on the total applications, but the US has over 30,000,000 small businesses. We assume that most of them will apply, dwarfing previous years. We expect that (1) the SBA and their partner banks will be completely overwhelmed by this, and (2) businesses that survive an interim shortage of cash need to find sources of capital on their own.

If you or your employer is using other funding sources we highly recommend that you get with an accountant to figure out how to track it as payroll-related so that when the PPP comes through it still counts as forgivable. Strategic, bold moves at this phase will pay long term dividends.

International Numbers

Italy is moving in the right direction. To us, this is more significant than other European countries because (1) Italy was hardest it, if they can make the right progress we all can, (2) they didn’t social distance well at first, which candidly reflects the US, and (3) they have a more vulnerable population than most countries.

Source: Worldometers

How JM Addington is Adjusting

Financially it is becoming more apparent that we need to be self-reliant on capital in the short-term. While the EIDL and PPP loans may come through we aren’t planning on them to come through when we need the cash and we are creating other plans to cover potential shortfalls over that period.

Masks: we’ve ordered enough fabric and elastic to make enough masks for each employee to have at least two, one for wearing and one that can be washed.

The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong ran an “I told you so,” article on the mask topic. And, well, they did tell the world so. Hong Kong still has fewer cases than Idaho.

Your author has been wearing a fabric mask while in stores for the last two weeks. The goal is mitigation of risk not elimination of risk. Just like washing hands won’t guarantee anything it helps and its easy.

JM Addington’s President with his bandana shopping mask

Other

Thanks to those that have shared kind words or liked these posts. We’re doing out best to put out data-driven analysis, each one of these takes about 2 hours. It’s helpful to know that they are being read.

If you want copies of the Excel sheet and PowerBI Reports we use to put these together email us, info@jmaddington.com. Right now, our PowerBI combines data from JHU, NYT, COVID Tracking Project, IMHE and the TN Department of Health. Most sets are updated daily.

[1] Major thanks to Matt Enlow for helping us through the math and Tim Bubar for getting us in touch.