C. Data on Virus Spreading Suggests Defensive Isolation Is Not Supported.
There is evidence that virus spread bears little or no relationship with isolation activities. The influenza virus has been plotted for each week, for each state, for many years. Figure 6 displays that information.
Figure 6 is the United States Flu & Pneumonia Weekly Deaths. The horizontal axis is the number of weeks from Sept 2015 to April 2020. The vertical axis is the weekly deaths. The Data is from CDC.
The graph in figure 6 shows no significant evidence of a relationship between low virus spread and isolation type activities. The following are a few examples:
New Hampshire is next to New York and has dissimilar social gathering patterns, dissimilar distancing routines, etc. Yet both have very high virus spread.
Illinois and Montana have opposite social gathering patterns, yet both are in the low virus spread area. It does not appear that social gathering is a measurable component to virus spread.
Maine is one of the most isolated states. But, Maine has the 7th highest virus spread, with a value of 618.
Rhode Island, located near Maine, has a high social gathering. But Rhode Island has a low virus spread value of 507.
Illinois has high social gathering, but has a low virus spread value of 499.
South Dakota is a low virus spread state (477) with wide open areas, while Oklahoma is a high virus spread state (614) with wide open areas.
There appears to be no significant connection between social gathering patterns or geographic isolation and virus spread. This could be a consequence of a highly mobile nation. The virus can hitch a ride with anyone.
Figure 6 displays the results of thousands and thousands of data points, over many years, in all 50 states. It tracks each week of every Flu season, along with many types of influenza viruses. There is no arbitrary selection of the data points. There is no anecdotal evidence. It is just data.
The COVID-19 deaths are indicated in Figure 6. It illustrates that the 6 states with high influenza spread had 61% of all the deaths, while the 13 states with the lowest influenza spread had 6.1%. Both groups had essentially the same populations (43 million in top 6 and 41 million in the lowest 13 states).
The data further suggests a relationship between the most COVID-19 deaths and the physical distance that state is from New York City. But there are several exceptions:
Rhode Island is directly between New York and Connecticut and Massachusetts, but it has a low virus spread and very few COVID-19 deaths (239).
Delaware has a low virus spread (554) and few COVID deaths (137).
New Hampshire is a high virus spread state and is close to New York; however, it has very few COVID deaths.
In essence, there is insufficient evidence to show that social gatherings or physical isolation and COVID deaths are related. It does not mean that there is no relationship. It only means that currently there is a lack of studies or data to establish that link.
In Figure 7, the Flu Map data is superimposed on the COVID-19 Weekly Deaths. The presence of the influenza virus began to drop around March 21st. Six weeks later COVID deaths began to drop. There is a 3-4 week delay between infection and death, but the time between catching the virus and infection is not known. This chart suggests that time may be between 2 to 3 weeks.
Figure 7. Influenza Spread Rating Superimposed on COVID-19 Deaths for 2020. The horizontal axis is the number of weeks from March to December 2020. The Left hand side Vertical Axis is the weekly US Deaths. The weekly deaths data is from http://www.worldometers.info. The right hand side vertical axis is the weekly Flu Map rating total for all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia for 2020. The Flu Map data is from the CDC.
It was on March 13-15th when the nation began its stringent lockdown. It can be argued that the lockdown might be related to the drop in deaths occurring about 7 weeks later. However, the lockdown was abrupt and widespread. If the lock-down was the cause for the drop in deaths, then the death rate should have had some kind of abrupt drop or at least a significant drop signal. It did not.
On the other hand, the timing and shape of the COVID-19 drop in death rates is consistent with the timing and shape of the drop in the presence of influenza viruses.
The graph suggests two things:
The lock-down had no detectable effect.
The drop in influenza viruses is connected to the drop in deaths six week later.
This is good news. If the drop in COVID-19 deaths are related to the disappearing influenza virus, then it will continue to drop regardless of defensive isolation tactics. It also suggests that when a COVID-19 vaccine is made available that it should be used along with the influenza vaccine. There is significant credible evidence of the existence of a link between the two viruses and the deaths.
There is a caveat. Figure 7 is based on death rates. There is a possibility that the death rate data could be compromised. Medicare pays more money to hospitals for COVID-19 treatment compared to other treatments. It is possible that this may provide an economic incentive to over-classify COVID-19 deaths. There is some published data suggesting that CDC has decreased flu deaths after week 10 and below residual flu deaths reported in previous years and reclassified them as COVID-19 deaths. These actions suggest that the COVID-19 deaths may be overstated. This would require further investigation.
There is another problem. The influenza Flu Map data stopped in May 2020 and it appears that 100% of the flu deaths appears to have been reclassified as COVID-19 deaths.