Georgia sees a decline in COVID-19 deaths weeks after reopening
Georgia has been among the first states to move toward reopening. This despite all the extreme predictions that said Georgia’s mortality rates would double if the state were to move towards such a risky direction. But Georgia allowed some businesses to open April 24th under some strict conditions.
The state has followed a staggered reopening over the subsequent 20 days. Restaurants, gyms, bowling alleys, salons and other businesses have been allowed to re-open, though bars and live music venues remain closed for the time being.
This decision was of course accompanied by heavy criticism, with some analysts showing why the state isn’t ready to open and that opening would double the number of cases as well as deaths in the state.
Kemp was widely criticized last month for the decision. “Atlantic”writer Amanda Mull claimed Georgia was engaging in “an experiment in human sacrifice,” while numerous pundits and public officials insisted that the state would soon see a skyrocketing body count due to a second wave of the disease.
But three weeks after reopening the data shows that things have turned for the Better in Georgia. The department of Public Health has found that both total and absolute numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths have significantly declined since the state reopened.
The weekly average number of new cases on April 24 was 747, while average number of deaths was 35. As of May 13, those tallies have dropped to 288 and 13, respectively.
As far as hospital use is concerned, Georgia also saw a decline in the number of patients being hospitalized and those needing ventilators.
As of Monday, May 11, there are 881 ventilators in use, 1,134 COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized statewide, and 1,987 critical care hospital beds in use across Georgia. On Friday, May 1, there were 989 ventilators in use, 1,483 COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized statewide, and 2,119 critical care hospital beds in use across Georgia.
This in contrast to a model shared by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, predicting cases and deaths will increase in the state;
With the assumption of relaxed social distancing, the model predicts that the number of Covid-19 deaths per day in Georgia will jump from 32 people dying on May 1 to a projected 63 people dying per day by August 4.
Currently, 995 people have died from Covid-19 in Georgia, according to the model, and it projects that number could climb to 4,691 by August 4. The projection for total deaths in the state provides a range of estimates between 1,686 deaths on the lower end to up to 15,620 deaths on the higher end.
It is normal for states to see an increase in positive cases as they see their states ramp up testing. These trends are not worrisome if mortality and hospitalization rates stay the same or decline. Georgia has experienced a decline in both hospitalizations as well as mortality rates which is what states should be focusing on.
There may be a lot of reasons at play here that can be attributed to this trend in decline in hospitalization as well as mortality. But we cannot attribute this decline to the presence of mandated lockdown orders, because in Georgia, deaths and hospitalization numbers have declined weeks after the economy has reopened.
We can also see this by looking at trends between states that implemented lockdowns to those that did not. In some instances, states that implemented a lockdown have faced comparatively similar or even lower death rates compared to some other states that did not implement a lockdown order.
For instance, in the upper midwest Wisconsin and Minnesota implemented a stay-at-home order while the states of Iowa, North, and South Dakota did not. As of May 8, Iowa has a lower death rate than Minnesota, and the Dakotas both have lower death rates than the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Well-structured models, when used correctly, help guide decision-making. But even the best models provide limited insight. Despite this fact, policymakers are letting models weigh in so heavily when deciding whether to reopen or not. This even after some models’ predictions have shown to be consistently off by large margins. If not anything, the trend in Georgia just goes to show how stay-at-home orders are not the end-all solution to the virus most models have suggestively made them out to be.