Infection data and targeted actions
A few weeks ago, I suggested it might be instructive to watch the COVID case counts in Wisconsin after their Supreme Court threw out all the statewide restrictions on movement and gatherings and compare them to what happened in Illinois under our continuing "shelter in place." To make the comparisons a little more even, I looked at a rolling seven-day average new-case count per 100,000 residents in each state,
As you may recall, the law changed on May 14. At that time, Wisconsin was seeing about five new COVID cases per day per 100,000 residents, while Illinois was seeing 18-19 new cases. The new case reporting rate continued to rise in Wisconsin, hitting a peak of 7.5 new cases per day roughly two weeks after the restrictions were lifted in much of the state. At the same time, the reporting rate in Illinois dropped to 15 new COVID cases per day per 100,000 residents. In the week and a half since then, the Illinois rate has continued to fall while the Wisconsin rate has drifted slightly down. Clearly, the restrictions in Illinois served to reduce the new infection rate.
So, social distancing works, but it seems most necessary where it doesn't happen naturally. In a slightly different approach, I looked at the cumulative COVID case count per 100,000 residents as of June 8. Chicago had by far and away the highest rate.
When our political leaders have the luxury of time to evaluate what went well and what didn't during the COVID crisis, I hope they will give greater consideration to targeted actions instead of treating all groups the same. Containment efforts must be focused on the areas with high transmission potential and reduced emphasis in low risk areas would help reduce the economic impacts we saw this time around.